Detective Gould is the best cop on the force. Though the crime rate in his town of Red Wheelbarrow is on the rise, virtually every case is closed with Gould handling them. Using modern technology alongside his magnificent powers of observation and deductive skills, Gould may be the greatest crime solver of all time. But, there’s a string of odd cases that have set Gould’s inner wheels turning, even as he finds their culprits.
With more than a passing nod to classic detective stories, Red Handed builds a finely layered tower of mysteries. Each crime is told as its own short story, but characters and situations overlap for the ongoing whodunit. Using newspaper articles, advertisements, side stories, and multiple series of all black panels featuring only dialogue, the book defies the expectations for a traditional graphic novel.
Contemplating the differences between good and evil and what makes something a crime, Kindt’s gritty storyline takes a very literary and philosophical turn, even as it grips the reader with bizarre, seemingly unrelated incidents. While I thoroughly enjoyed the book once I got into it, I did have several “What on Earth is happening?” moments early on. However, Kindt compels the reader onward to the final conclusion, where many disparate items are pulled together for the wrap up.
The art is film noir in comic book style. The back stories are sad and you can practically hear the trumpet belting out a jazz theme. The colors are generally muted, with stark shadows and serious characters. The depth of color changes, though, depending on which character is the focus. Some moments are done entirely in black and white while others seem harshly colored by comparison. The art evokes the mood of the stories with watercolors adding a haunting depth to the images.
Detective enthusiasts and mystery lovers will enjoy watching the stories unfold with some surprisingly developed characters adding a literary depth. Readers should not give up before the seemingly unrelated stories can start coming together. Otherwise, they will be missing out on a fascinating read.
Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes
by Matt Kindt
First Second, 2013
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