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Russian Detective h/c

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Russian Detective h/c back

Carol Adlam


Page 45 Review by Stephen

Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month April 2024

Grin-inducingly clever, this is a thrilling tour de force, throwing everything of its 19th Century time at us! Oh, the optical illusions abound!

Each device is so skillfully selected for precisely the right moment: the sensationalist front pages, the photogravure captured by aerial balloon, a trip to a Magic Lantern Theatre, a peep through a Peepshow and MORE all provide pivotal clues or an itegral part of the investigation into this high society Russian murder.

And investigate Charlie Fox does! "Stunt journalist, magician and thief", she's been here before and far from happy to find herself back again.

On the other hand, she's got to copy to file, so of course - of course! - Charlie's observations are stamped across each experience in the actual typewriter-face of a travelling, investigative nrews correspondent - complete with the bleeds of a fresh ink ribbon on dirt-clogged keys! And, oh look, on page 15, there's an actual mechanical Writing Ball!

The scene-setting in that steam train is so swiftly, economically established through Charlie's impish interaction with her fellow travellers: the sociopolitical setting - unenlightened, unemancipated, resistant to change, adverse to knowledge - along with Charlie's adversarial attitude to this frumpy, grumpy attitude and environment. Behold the tricks of her trade: illusion, improvisation, distraction and, if necessary, acrobatics!

It's all so very, very Eddie Campbell at his absolute best: the entirety of Charlie Fox's entrance (and very swift exit) is so sweetly reminiscent of Eddie's AMAZING REMARKABLE MONSIEUR LEOTARD, while the double-page spread that almost immediately follows (The Trials & Tribulations of 'The Fox'), with its surprise canary-coloured cameo, mirrors historian Campbell's love of lobbing that stuff in, along with the language.

What else did I jot down? "The weight of the train worried by wolves contrasting with the floating freedom of the passenger balloon... the dialogue layered onto and, so, INTO the scenes in semi-opaque bubbles or clouds." One moment made me think "phantasmagorical"!

Adlam is wringing from this every possible millegram of mischief & glee. THE RUSSIAN DETECTIVE is deliciously free. At the moment, though, so is the murderer, their motives unknown.

Architecture, landscape, sculptures, shadows, reflections and light. I am all of a swoon! What spy you through the windows?