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Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes Hardcover – May 7, 2013
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*Starred Review* In the city of Red Wheel Barrow, crime is on the rise—though no case goes unsolved, thanks to the brilliant, restless mind of Detective Gould. The offbeat nature of the lawbreaking (a woman steals chairs, a novelist lifts words for her book, a Peeping Tom sabotages elevators to get his thrills) could easily be played for yuks, but Kindt goes deeper, turning the seemingly random episodes into a rumination on the nature of crime itself. What is crime? Is there crime without victims? This fascinating work recalls Kindt’s earlier efforts (2 Sisters, 2004; Super Spy, 2007), combining his love for the trappings of crime fiction and nostalgia for the conventions of comic-book serials with an offbeat artistry and sly humor. Panels are precisely composed with casual line work and a muted color palette that reveals the texture of the paper. Newspaper clippings, imageless scenes of dialogue, and stylistic riffs (postcards, paperbacks, comics) keep things fresh and surprising. As characters recur (in particular, a real-estate agent named Tess), the story builds to a wonderfully structured and surprisingly affecting climax in which Gould is forced to confront the idea of preventing, rather than merely solving, crime. If David Lynch scripted Dick Tracy it might—might—be as great as this. --Keir Graff
“Matt Kindt is the man.” ―Junot Diaz
“*If David Lynch scripted Dick Tracy it might--might--be as great as this.” ―Booklist, starred review
“This hefty illustrated novel by a highly creative graphic artist and storyteller employs dazzling techniques in its presentation of an urban crime noir mystery.” ―VOYA
“Elegant scribbles from an electric mind.” ―Kirkus Reviews
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Top Customer Reviews
Set in the town of Red Wheelbarrow, Red Handed is a story based around a series of strange crimes and the famous detective whose job it is to bring their perpetrators to justice. The compulsive chair thief, the Picasso "art dealer," the failed novelist, and several other strange criminals call this city their home. Each person has a chapter devoted to their crimes, giving the reader a chance to see their wrongdoings from a sympathetic perspective; and Kindt has gone to great lengths to humanize these miscreants.
As always, Kindt's watercolor-based art is intoxicating. Rarely does the artist limit himself to a standard 4, 6, or 9 panel page (there's actually a 24-panel page in here), utilizing each page as if it were a separate work of art. He also experiments with different methods of telling the story. There are separate comics within this comic; a technique he seems to have carried over from his Mind MGMT series. And while these mini-strips can be confusing at first, they truly help to flesh out the overarching story without taking the focus away from the criminals that rightfully receive the book's primary focus. In addition, he also uses newspaper clippings and book covers to add an extra layer of realism to this sometimes outlandish world that he has created. All of this serves to make Red Handed a fully engrossing and layered journey that is nearly impossible to put down.
Kindt's work in the crime genre is well-documented. From the aforementioned Mind MGMT, to Pistolwhip and Revolver, it is the genre with which he seems most comfortable working. Even the sweet, moving 3 Story had elements of espionage in its pages. Red Handed is by far his biggest achievement in the genre, forcing us to question the difference between right and wrong, or art and crime. He has given readers an involving piece of fiction with dozens of moving parts that coalesce perfectly by the book's final act. If there's any complaint to be leveled at Red Handed, it's that the structure of the book is so foreign at first that it can cause undue confusion. But by it's conclusion, what once seemed like structural deficiencies become the book's defining characteristic and the primary motivation to read it all over again. Red Handed is a beautiful book, and the best graphic novel I've read in 2013. I highly recommend it!
When I'm sitting down to describe this book the thoughts that pop into my head are old school film noir detective meets a grownup Encyclopedia Brown. Why Encyclopedia Brown? Well just the way Detective Gould goes about catching his man using the tools at hand and his ability to piece together random clues using his intellect. Granted he hasn't pieced together the biggest mystery, but he'll get there. Film noir because there's this great element of old school literary feel to the novel. This isn't one of those novels where you just get told the story and you figure it out by page 12...no. This is one of those books where you're handed clues and by the time you're almost done with the story you're realizing that everything is connected and it wasn't what you thought it was at all.
Matt weaves together a great literary story, one that keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering what the signs have to do with a painting and what all that has to do with chairs being stolen. It all seems so random and yet by the end you're almost left wondering if you could have solved it without being told, so you read the story again and discover there were still things that you missed and you kinda of have to conclude that Matt's story is almost too good to be true.
Matt's artstyle is...a bit different. The bulk of the art is done in a soft watercolor palette, almost making it feel like we're reading a weathered book from the 30's/40's when Dick Tracey first patrolled the streets. And it draws you into the story and doesn't let you go. Then there are other parts, the little side stories like "Tess's True Heart" where we can still see the blue pencil lines from sketching and it seems like the story is unfinished and it throws me off a bit.
Overall though this is a story that will keep you reading and wondering to the very last page. I give the book 4 out of 5 stars.
ARC provided by Gina at FirstSecond
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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