16th Aug2017

‘Rivers of London: Detective Stories #3′ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel | Art by Lee Sullivan | Published by Titan Comics

Rivers_of_London_-Detective_Stories_3_C-A

This Detective Stories arc is a bit of a mixed bag so far. It is interesting in the sense we are getting snapshots of past cases, and of past relationships, notably that with previous partner Lesley May. Not so good in the sense it all feels a little too loose, the detective interview ‘glue’ holding these very different stories together just not quite strong enough. Rivers of London is never really bad of course, just sometimes it is exceptional, and it is very noticeable when it just comes across as good.

So, as mentioned, in the course of Peter’s application for promotion to Detective he is discussing previous cases in his interview. The first two have been reasonably interesting, showcasing Peter’s policing skills as much as his magical ones. This case is one from 2013, when a medium claimed she had been given evidence of a murder by a ghost. Normally these get laughed off, but this time the medium knew of evidence that had never been released to the public. Peter got involved as the investigating officer, Sgt Dollard, knew about Peter’s work through a colleague. She thought there was a rational explanation to be had, and that Peter would confirm this. Peter ,of course, told her a ghost was involved. And that he would need to question it.

Peter brings up Frank Moody, murdered 50 years ago, and looking for justice. Frank was a Private Investigator hired to see if a husband was having an affair. The husband was indeed, with a nightclub singer called Pearl. Before handing over his findings, Pearl gave Frank a proposition; the two of them blackmail the husband for a lot of money, split the loot, and everyone’s happy. Frank agreed, and it all went perfectly until at the ransom drop Pearl turned on Frank and shot him dead. You reap what you sow it seems. Frank though cannot rest until his case is solved, so Peter set about solving it.

His investigation revealed that the husband and wife were now dead, but that singer Pearl, real name Alison Mishkin, was still alive. Although initially denying knowing Frank, Pearl finally confessed to, but her story was a tad different. In her version, Frank wanted to her to help him blackmail Victor, the husband, and she refused and he assaulted her. Victor found out, then planned to get rid of Frank in revenge. Pearl never saw either ever again. In the absence of any other evidence, and Frank Moody’s spirit not returning for a second interview, the case was left with the theory that angry husband Victor shot and killed Frank Moody, after he tried to set up his blackmail attempt. Case sort of closed. A bit.

The thing I love with this series is how creator Ben Aaronovitch and co-writer Andrew Cartmel have such a handle on making the extraordinary seem so mundane and, well, ordinary. This story featured interviews with dead people and I didn’t bat an eyelid. This issue was a lovely slice of British film noir, taking place on the rainy, neon drenched streets of 60′s,er, Slough. Very gentle satire, but delivered well. Great dialogue as ever, though the awesome one-liners were absent once again.

Lee Sullivan on art was as dependable as ever. A little conventional perhaps, with his style and layouts, but never delivers anything less than a solid story, and always enhances the script and characters. Not many better artists out there who can pace a story on a page better either. And his little Bogart homage was fun too. The use of colours by Luis Guerrero was also excellent, especially the grays and blacks with just the splash of red in the flashback scenes.

Again, a slight story but really held together by the great character work, the fine homage to noir, and the undercurrent of humour that never overwhelms the main story. Peter Grant always seems like that mate we all have.

**** 4/5

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