Written by Angela Keoghan and Chris Lam Sam Illustrated by Angela Keoghan
Published by Tate Publishing ISBN: 978-1-84976-444-5
Reviewed by Andy Robert Davies
This is a crime caper in the traditional sense; a charismatic inspector solves a seemingly impossible riddle, aided by his trusted friend and assistant. Inspector Brunswick (cat) and his assistant Nelson (dog), are enjoying a day of culture at an art museum, when they are presented with an irresistible case; the eyebrow from a famous painting has disappeared! By varying the amount of text on each page, Keoghan and Sam skillfully control the pace of the narrative.
The story owes much to Agatha Christie’s work and Inspector Brunswick does have something of Hercule Poirot and also Inspector Clouseau in his mannerisms. But to be fair to Brunswick, his dapper appearance and demeanour is closer to the Belgian detective. Keoghan uses an amalgamation of textures and selective line-work to create multilayered imagery that are full of entertaining details.
The inclusion of art deco letterforms and the choice of colour palette help this book achieve the desired look as it appears to be from the golden age of detective stories with a nod to Victorian era fashion. The book includes fold-out pages which allows Keoghan to explore layout and the different stages of the hunt.
Some of the compositions are challenging, but this can be a positive as it encourages the reader to search through the crowds of anthropomorphic art lovers and really engage with the story. A fox, crocodile, mouse and a mole are all dressed in their Sunday best whilst enjoying the paintings (which are mostly of people). There are little references to art history that perhaps adult readers will enjoy when reading this with a child. The crowd of animals (and paintings) grow more and more flustered as the search widens. The conclusion to this mystery is suitably surreal and introduces the themes of fame, recognition and the desire to share one’s artistry with others.
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