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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Red Handed, the Fine Art of Strange Crimes (new Graphic Novel -- it is good, but you may need to read it a couple of times before you can figure it out)

Kindt, Matt(2013)  Red Handed:  The Fine Art of Strange Crimes.  New York:  First Second

     When it was on my shelf, waiting to be read, I figured it would be a graphic novel about strange crimes and the mysteries that surround them.  I was figuring it was going to be an excellent non-fiction book (or, in the current bizarre parlance of Education-speak: an Informational Book).  When I finally started reading it, I had it pegged as an exciting whodunit kind of a book.  By the time I finished it, I was seriously confused.  I enjoyed it, I am just not sure how to describe it.  This book is about mystery, crime, heroism, art, the uncertaintyy of knowing, morality, and more beside.

     It seems targeted for adults, and there are one or two scenes that hint at marital infidelity  -- but it is pretty much PG 13 -- a high school kid could handle this  (See the illustration below.)  This scene is about as risque as it gets.
     There are some very intriguing moments -- a woman who steals chairs from places she works and stores them all in her house, a man who steals famous paintings, cuts them up, and sells framed pieces of them.  A different woman who plans the perfect crime, and a detective who solves crimes by relying on cameras.  There are also some scenes that are likely to disinterest some  high school readers including a couple of long digressions about the meaning of art.  In the end, it all comes together and wraps up nicely, though I would not call the ending satisfying. 

     The art is strong, and the use of panels most excellent, but I am afraid this book is not destined to become one of your all time favorites.  Don't rush out to buy it -- but if you see it at your favorite bookstore, page through it for a while -- if it interests you, check it out.  I could be completely wrong about it.

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