Author: Neil Gaiman
Artist: P. Craig Russell
May 27 2014 “I am Raguel, who is the Vengeance of the Lord. I serve the Name [God] directly. It is my mission to discover the nature of this deed, and to take the Name’s vengeance on those responsible. My questions are to be answered.”
Raguel in Murder Mysteries by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell
Sometimes you grab a book for one reason, but find unexpectedly, that you love it for a completely different reason. That was the case with Murder Mysteries for me. I requested it from NetGalley when I saw the art and the name, Neil Gaiman. The plot sounded interesting, but it wasn’t until I finished reading it in one sitting that I realized many of my favorite elements in Gaiman’s books were all rolled into one story.
Murder Mysteries was written by Neil Gaiman and then adapted by P. Craig Russell. It is the story of a man thinking back to an experience he had in Los Angeles. While there, he shared a cigarette with a man, who paid him with a story. The story was of the first murder of an angel after creation, and the man telling the story was the angel created to solve the mystery. But what does the story have to do with the man’s current life? This is a difficult story to sum up, as any further explanation could be a spoiler.As you could probably tell from the intro, I loved the story. I didn’t really know what to expect when I started, and even through the first 15 pages I wasn’t sure if I would like it. However, the ending and the plot really drew me in. As with much of Gaiman’s other works, the two plots are wound together in a way that benefits both parts of the plot. Additionally the artwork was engaging, and drew me in. It was not as pretty as some other graphic novels (typically shojo manga), but it is a lot more pleasing than other comics. There are little hints and details hidden in the artwork that are fun to look for after you have finished the story.
Of the two main stories, I found the man visiting Los Angeles less engaging, and kept waiting to go back to the angels. However, the man was needed and the end brought everything together from both plots. The angels were what made me love this story. I am a sucker for a story that shows a traditional villain, especially if it is before they turn/fall. Even better is if there is an explanation or reason for why they ended up they way they are (I have lost track of the number of books I have read about Mordred because of this). So I was riveted by Lucifer, and the angel he was before his fall. I loved the following exchange between Raguel and Lucifer.
Raguel: “And what do you do in the dark, Lucifer?”
Lucifer: “I walk, and…there are voices, in the dark. I listen to the voices. They promise me things, ask me questions, whisper and plead. And I ignore them. I steel myself and gaze at the city. It is the only way I have of testing myself—Putting myself to any kind of trial. I am the captain of the Host. I am the first among the angels, and I must prove myself.”While there are angels in the story, and God, it is not a religious comic. The actual mystery of the murder of the angel is not too difficult, but it is intriguing. There are some Gaiman twists in the story, and a general darkness to the story that I loved. I think this may be a book that I will have to buy so I can enjoy it in printed format!
After the actual comic there is another 30ish pages on how the comic was created. Honestly I was not that interested, and only skimmed it. I tried several times, but it just couldn’t hold my attention. For others this may be a really neat behind the scenes look, but for me I would have preferred more to the story. However, I did like finding out that Russell went to school in my hometown!
Final Verdict: A fascinating quick read with some Neil Gaiman twists and darkness!