June 19, 2014 by mmileti
I have not read many graphic novels in the past, and I had convinced myself that they were simply not “my thing.” Earlier this year I read a graphic novel that was based on part of Joe Abercrombie’s First Law series, and ever since I have made a promise to give more graphic novels a chance. Neil Gaiman’s Murder Mysteries is beautifully written and stunningly illustrated by P. Craig Russell. After reading it I was convinced that my pledge to experience graphic novels had finally led me to something meaningful as well as picturesque.
The plot of Murder Mysteries revolves around some of Neil Gaiman’s favorite themes: gods, the origins of morality, and the shades of gray between good and evil. The story starts with a lonely man in Los Angeles who shares a cigarette one night with a stranger. The stranger tells the man the story of creation from the perspective of an angel of justice. God has given each angel a task, which falls under either the category of maintaining heaven or being the architects of earth. But when the very first crime in existence is committed, the angels of heaven are shocked. Someone has murdered an angel in paradise, and things will never be the same.
Fans of Neil Gaiman’s books will enjoy this graphic novel, as it is one of the most beautiful stories he has ever written. The story is simple, but extremely moving, and the striking artwork makes up for the flowing prose of a traditional novel. This story really struck a chord in me, and made me stand up and take notice more than any other Gaiman story I have ever read.
I do have one note of caution for Gaiman’s fans: though the themes are extremely similar to those in his other works, the tone in this story is much more serious. If you are looking for a fun story with a lighthearted feel similar to American Gods or Stardust, this is probably not the graphic novel for you. This is a serious story full of light and dark, and it leaves the reader feeling slightly melancholy and contemplative. I enjoyed it much more than The Sandman, Gaiman’s other graphic novels, and found them to be both easier to follow and more profound.
Overall, I would rate Murder Mysteries an 8/10, as it touched me in a way that few stories can.
I received a copy of this graphic novel from Netgalley and the publisher in return for an honest review.