The Book That Made Me: David Almond 20/03/19
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Bryan Talbot arrives on a wave of accolades. His last book, Alice in Sunderland was daubed 'one of the top 10 graphic novels of all time.' Can he keep up? Well, with Grandville, the anthropomorphised detective tale set in an alternative reality where not only are animals the master race and humans the 'dough face underclass' but France won the Napoleonic wars and Paris is the capital of the world. Featuring an impressive list of steampunk staples such as steam-driven hansom cabs, automatons and flying machines, we follow Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard as he investigates some cross-channel murders and their link to English terrorists trying to free Blighty from the French emperor. There are allusions to the current 'war on terror' post 9/11 with suicide bombings and war zones, which while slightly contrived, work well to build a mirror of where we as a nation could possibly go.
The book is violent with blazing action scenes. The Victorian speech and the slightly pulpy elements of the detective story give this an edgy Holmes feel, except with anthropomorphised animals. LeBrock, the stoic badger detective, is a strong lead character, almost unstoppable in his relentless quest to uncover crimes and pick apart conspiracies. The steampunk contraptions and industrial feel to the background bring this together in a strong package that, along with his previous book, make Bryan Talbot a graphic novelist akin to Daniel Clowes and Alan Moore.