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A treasury of Victorian Murder: The Case of Madeleine Smith

By Hervé St.Louis
July 9, 2006 - 21:57


This series, by Geary looks at notorious 19th century criminals and reconstructs historically in a comic book format the case of the murderer. In this case, Madeleine Smith a Scottish bride who murders her lustful French suitor, Émile L’Anglier. Bestowed to another gentleman, Madeleine decided to breakup their secret relationship by poisoning the man she supposedly loved. We find out all the details of this story in this book.

Geary is a meticulous researcher and historian who creates a type of comic book that is difficult on all points. Historians must be precise and thorough. Comic books are most usually used for fiction or advertising. Doing a documentary comic book is a rare genre that Geary masters. Even if he has to tell little snippets and facts, Geary still makes his story as compelling as anything out of CSI, but without all the special effects. This book packs so much information in a few pages that Geary shames every modern comic book writer who relies on padding his comics into multi-arc nonsense.

The best quality of Geary is his objectivity. Although the absolute verdict on whether Madeleine Smith really murdered her lover was debated endlessly in its days, Geary’s meticulous account does not make us doubt a moment that the author is biassed or interpreting history. He backs his work with so much flair and authority that he could manipulate facts and we would never know. In fact he does, as there are still people who will argue that Madeleine Smith was innocent and Geary seems to think otherwise. But I’m not arguing here.

Geary’s main weakness is that he makes his characters look old even if they are barely 20 years old. Sure, the clothes they wore used to age their looks, but surely not their faces. Although dependent on a narrator’s caption, the balance of text and images was preserved and created a suitable mix. I wish more people would create such comic books and read them. This is the type of book that will appeal to anyone who likes mystery and detective novels or TV show, and without even requiring an extensive argument or need to prove that it is a worthwhile comic book for those who don’t read them.


Past Volumes Reviews

A Treasury of Victorian Murder: The Murder of Abraham Lincoln

Last Updated: September 6, 2021 - 08:15

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