Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Stone Man Mysteries, Book One - Stone Cold

It's a mystery. And it's a comic book. Therefore, it goes without saying that I would be getting it.  Stone Cold is the first of the Stone Man Mysteries by authors Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple and artist Orion Zangara. And by "Stone Man," no, it doesn't refer to a man made of stone (such as that unique little hero in the Legion of Substitute Heroes) - no, this is referring to one of those scary looking gargoyles that seem to overlook humanity from high atop a gothic structure - whether it be a mansion, a towering business building, or, in this case, a church.

Stone Cold is more than just a mystery, though - it's also an origin story of sorts.  Yolen and Stemple manage to weave an intriguing locked-room murder mystery with a supernatural tale of a demon bound do the top of the church, burdened with the task of watching over Edinburgh.  Silex, eternally trapped to the stone roof, guards the city and has determined to use his time wisely by solving crimes throughout the community over which he watches.  To do that, though, he needs human aides, people who can be his hands and feet.

Enter Craig McGowan - a young boy who is prepared to jump from the roof of the cathedral, ready to end it all - until he finds himself talking to what he mistook for a stone gargoyle.  He is soon called into service, along with Father Harris, who has been the servant of Silex for longer than he cares to remember.  Craig's first case is to find out what happened to Angus McFearsome, Earl of Stockbridge, who was found dead in his bedroom - his throat slashed and a knife with a black handle shoved into his chest. The bedroom door was locked, so who could have killed him?  And what do the two large feathers found under the bed have to do with anything? And how is this murder connected to the other two people who have been killed recently?  And why was each murder victim stabbed with a black-handled knife, even though that was not the cause of death?

For Craig, the mystery seems impossible to solve. But even the smallest, most insignificant piece of information could hold an important clue for Silex - the Stone Man.  So Craig, like Father Harris, does his duty, inquires of the townsfolk, pokes his nose where it doesn't belong, and reports everything he sees, hears, and finds to Silex, who sifts through it all to discover the truth.  Along the way, he reveals to Craig who he really is and how he came to be bound to the roof of the church.

Orion Zangara provides the art for this book, and the black and white images maintain a very gothic feel to the story.  Lots of shadows, lots of rain, and lots of gloom - it's a gothic-lover's nightmare (which, in this case, is a good thing!). While so many artists today try and use some "stylistic" way of rendering people as a means of making their mark, Zangara keeps his art realistic, with very vivid drawings of the characters - panel 2 of page 31 is such a beautiful image of Craig, you can literally see right into his eyes the way you would a person in real life - it's captivating!  While I've never heard of this artist before, I have no doubt we'll be seeing more of his work soon!

Here's hoping these three continue the series and that a book two will be forthcoming!

RATING:  8 Dirk Symbols of Scottish Freedom out of 10 for keeping the gothic alive and not only readable, but enjoyable as well!

No comments:

Post a Comment