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Murder Mysteries Hardcover – June 25, 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Celebrated comics creators Gaiman (Sandman) and Russell (The Ring of the Nibelung) have teamed up to produce a story of deception and vengeance involving the first betrayal, the first heartbreak and the first crime in God's own city of angels. Raguel is a lost angel, a ragged drifter on the streets of Los Angeles, who tells this story to the narrator, a young Brit stranded on his way back to England. In Raguel's former world, the one in which he had wings, he served as the agent of the Lord's vengeance. When an angel was found murdered, Raguel was assigned to find the killer and his motives. Like an unearthly detective, Raguel questioned his fellow angels until he discovered the murderer and then delivered the Lord's terrible punishment. But upon wreaking God's vengeance, Raguel began to realize it was God himself who set up this murder. Using sharp, crystalline drawings of the eternal city and ribbons of color that suggest creation's simultaneous plasticity and solidity, Russell conveys a bright, illuminated world of purity and divine experimentation. His crisp and vividly rendered drawings capture the haunting sense of loss and isolation Gaiman expresses in this mythic tale of love and jealousy.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This is a masterful adaptation by P. Craig Russell of a deep and dark prose short story by Gaiman, known for his wonderful, multiple award-winning Sandman and his recent novel American Gods. The original story can be found in Gaiman's collection Smoke and Mirrors and in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror (St. Martin's, 1993). In it, a stranger bums a cigarette off a young man and, in exchange, tells him an ancient story, which makes up the bulk of the book. In the city of the angels, where the universe is being prepared according to the Lord's specifications, one angel is found dead, and Raguel, the Vengeance of the Lord, is sent by Lucifer, Captain of the Host, to investigate. Russell is known for his many fine adaptations of such works as Michael Moorcock's novel Stormbringer (Dark Horse/ Topps). This showcases his marvelous pacing and exquisite artwork, along with Lovern Kindzierski's beautiful coloring. Mature elements make this for older teens and adults. Highly recommended, especially for the many fans of Sandman who want more of Gaiman's thoughtful fantasies.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Horse; 1st edition (June 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156971634X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569716342
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 6.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,685,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I must have read Neil Gaiman's short story Murder Mysteries four or five times since I originally encountered it; It's been featured, and rightfully so, in many short story collections. It's one of Gaiman's best, most thought-provoking works, and since Gaiman is one of the best storytellers around, that's really saying something. P. Craig Russell is one of the masters of the comic book art form, and he especially excels at adaptations of fantasy, having previously done Wagner's Ring Cycle, Michael Moorcock's Elric, and numerous Oscar Wilde stories. Gaiman and Russell collaborated on what many consider to be the best issue of Gaiman's DC/Vertigo Sandman book, and Russell has adapted a few other Gaiman short stories (One Life, Furnished In Early Moorcock, and Only The End Of The World Again). Murder Mysteries stands as a high-water mark, in my opinion.
The story-within-a-story, told by a homeless man to a visiting Englishman in L.A., tells of the first murder ever: An Angel killed in "The Shining City"; Our homeless storyteller is in reality the Angel Raguel, the vengeance of "The Name" (God). Raguel becomes, in effect, the first Detective, attempting to discover a motive that can lead to bringing the killer to justice.
Gaiman's story works on many levels, and I have to say that as much as I loved the prose short story, the ending has always left me vaguely puzzled; It's a very involved and thought-provoking piece, and I often find myself thinking about the ending. Russell's adaptation went a long way towards making that ambiguous ending more clear. It turns out I was on the right track, but Russell's visuals make the ending more visceral and powerful.
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Format: Hardcover
Combine Colderidge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" with Raymond Chandler and all the mystery and promise in the spaces between the words, "The world was without form and void," and you have Murder Mystery. An old man tells a story to a younger stranger in Los Angeles. The investigator of heaven is called to the scene of the very first murder, one in heaven long before Cain & Abel.
The story is divinely erotic and eloquently woven with a master's hand. The illustrations complement perfectly and entrance with their powerful delicacy. This is a must have for anyone interested in a theological or simply intriguing graphic novel.
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Format: Kindle Edition
First, some housekeeping. This is the graphic novel version of Neil Gaiman's short story "Murder Mysteries". As of this writing, the Amazon site mixes up a number of different versions. One version is a "Play for Voices", published in 2011 and illustrated by George Walker; (cover is a skeleton on a black background). Another version was illustrated by P. Craig Russell, but it came out in 1998 and is not the new expanded version; (cover is white feathers on a blue background). All reviews up to now relate to this edition.

The edition you will want is to be released May 27, 2014, and is also illustrated and basically written, (from Gaiman's story and with Gaiman's complete collaboration), by P. Craig Russell; (cover is yellowish, with a Victorian/Maxfield Parrish vibe). Apart from being sharp and complete, this edition has an extended interview with Russell in which he explains his creative process and points out and illustrates many details regarding the design decisions he made while laying out and drawing the book. Even if you have only a passing interest in graphic novels this extended interview is rich, detailed, bullcrap free, and fascinating, and will leave you with a heightened appreciation of what illustrators do and how they do it.

As to the story, the reviews of the older editions pretty much say it all, and are so insightful and helpful they are worth a quick view. This is one of Gaiman's tightest and yet most complex stories, and it is rendered marvelously well here. If you want some Gaiman that's located in the middle ground between his straight mainstream prose works and his "Sandman" style works, this is a great place to start.

A very happy and satisfying find for Gaiman fans or newbies, and a wonderful intro to the world of graphic novels.
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2 Comments 7 of 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
This book blew me away. It had all the elements of a great story and the art was spectacular. It gets me thinking, and responding to the characters, even after I put the book down.
Great work!
By the way, Neil is not the illustrator.
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Format: Hardcover
Mever before have I encountered a work in which a transfer to a different medium has so enriched it (except perhaps the book Fight Club to the movie Fight Club). This has always been one of my favorite Neil Gaiman short stories, I have read and re-read it many times in the seven or eight years since I first read it, I have made innumerable other people read it and I have discussed it repeatedly. However, Russell's illustrations brought out and made evident an entirely new facet of the story that I have never realized, what is in fact the true Murder Mystery of the title! This story has been blown wide open for me, on what must have been the dozenth or so read, and I have since forced others to revisit it and make the same revelation. This translation, this new revelation, makes further testament to Gaiman's gift as a storyteller. Russell is not, in my mind, the ideal person to have done this project, I would have gone with somebody with a darker style. Still, this is a terriffic read, even if, and especially if, like me, you have known the story for a long time. I promise, it will change the way you see it.
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