I’ve slipped away for a month again, but that happens from time to time. The truth is, I’ve been on a pretty big writing jag on the fiction side of things with a few projects that are shaping up nicely. What that boils down to is that most of my free time has been spent writing, which boils down further too…no time to watch movies! I have gotten some reading done however which is important for any writer to do.
Amongst the scattered novels I’m plowing through a little bit of a time, I received some new trades from Vertigo last week that made for some interesting diversion. The first of these is “A Sickness in the Family” by Denise Mina. I can’t say I’m familiar with the line but Vertigo now as a ‘Vertigo Crime’ series which is essentially your straight up muder mystery type stories. Mina has quite a history with this style of story with her six novels and her stint on Veritgo’s Hellblazer.
“Meet the Ushers. (By the way, this name is no accident). The parents, Ted and Biddy. Grandma Martha. The three kids, William, Amy and Sam. Just a normal, middle class family gathered around the table on Christmas Day. Until they start dying very violent deaths. One by one. As secrets and resentments boil to the surface, it becomes clear there’s more than one Usher with a motive for killing off the others. But in the end, the truth turns out to be far more shocking than anyone in the ill-fated family could have imagined.”
Once we dig into “Sickness”, it becomes apparant early on that we’re dealing with your standard large wealthy family arguing over inheritences. Granted, nobody has died to pass the money on to the children yet, but they’re going to argue about it anyways. To spice things up, we’re given the setting of a creepy old flat with a nasty history and the hopes of ghost stories being mixed in along the way. While standard, the story is readable yet fails to be very innovative. It’s one of those cases where you finish the story and don’t hate the fact that you read it, but you didn’t take a lot out of it either. There’s a lot goign on here in the limited amount of pages Mina has to work in. The nuts and bolts of the story are solid, I just can’t helpt to think that it would have worked better in a standard novel format where Minda could have fleshed out her characters to a more hearty presentation. As they are, they’re a little thin.
As for the artwork by Antonio Fuso, it makes a great companion on the story that is here. The black and white art fits well with the gritty setting and family drama. There are touches of a Japanese influence here and there to help to give the book a different look. Overall, the art really helps the package for me.
“A Sickness In the Family” is an allright read, but I can’t really recommend that you go beat down the doors of your local shop to get a copy. If you happen across a bargain copy or find at your library? Sure, snap it up. Keep in mind however, muder mysteries are generally not my standard fare. If you like some good crime fiction, you might enjoy this book a lot more than I did.
Curious? “A Sickness in the Family” hits shelves on October 13th for $19.99.