by Bryan Talbot
The second of Bryan Talbot's Grandville graphic novels is perhaps more enjoyable than the first, since the world of Detective-Inspector LeBrock is established, and Talbot has a little more time and space to craft his story and characters.
Grandville Mon Amour is set in a world where Napoleon had taken over all of Europe. England has recently won its independence from France after a long and bloody insurgency campaign, and the country is now poised to appoint its Prime Minister for the last number of years as President for life, a choice that many find odd. These graphic novels fit in the steampunk genre, and LeBrock's world is full of steam-powered machines and odd technology. Also, everyone is a talking animal, and while each species appears to only mate with their own kind, there doesn't appear to be much in the way of outright speciesism (racism?).
As this book opens, Mad Dog Mastock, a notorious serial killer and former resistance fighter makes his escape while on the way to the guillotine. Our hero, DI LeBrock, is wallowing in guilt from the events of the first graphic novel, but when he hears that Mastock is loose, he demands that he be put on the case, as he is the one that brought the dog down in the first place. His insistence gets him suspended, but in no time he is off to Grandville (Paris), with his partner Rodders, to track down Mastock on his own. Mastock has been killing prostitutes there, but LeBrock begins to discover a pattern and method behind the killings that go beyond his usual depravities.
The story follows through a few twists and turns (a couple of them were kind of predictable, admittedly), and the story is much larger than a simple case of an escaped serial killer. LeBrock, still stinging from the loss of his Sarah, ends up falling for another lovely female badger (how many of them could there be?), and Talbot keeps a romantic undercurrent flowing through the book.
As interesting as the story is, Talbot's art is the big draw here. He's always been a remarkably detailed artist, but the pages of this book are lovely. His animal characters and their environment are very believable, and the steampunk touches he's added are often fascinating. This is a very accomplished book, and I recommend it.