The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


April 1, 2013

Lisa Brown: Graphic novels captivate between non-fiction titles

JOPLIN, Mo. — When life gets busy (and the DVR fills up), my reading habits get a bit lazy. Memoirs, cookbooks and short story collections sound appealing, but they sit on my nightstand while I gravitate toward graphic novels and audio books.

I'll eventually return to reading about how to train your dog to stand on his head or make gluten-free, vegan pizza, but until then I'll feast on the many graphic novels found in the Joplin Public Library's collection.

'Lover's Lane: The Hall-Mills Mystery,' by Rick Geary

I confess, with some shame, to a weakness for books about historical murder cases. Thus, Rick Geary's series, "A Treasury of XXth Century Murder," holds great appeal. The latest installment, "Lover's Lane: the Halls-Mills Mystery," does not disappoint.

I'd not heard of the Hall-Mills murders, but it's a familiar story involving sex, money and scandal, and it captured a nation's attention in the 1920s. An affair between two lovers, a married pastor and a married member of his choir, ends when both are found dead on a country road, their love letters strewn around them.

The book delves into the case and examines all the potential suspects, reading like a police procedural. Much of "Lover's Lane" is narration, with little dialogue, and the illustrations are black and white.

Don't be put off by this low-key presentation. The events, motives and individuals will leave you trying to solve this mystery.

"Saga, Volume 1," by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples

"Saga" is one of the more riveting graphic novels I've read in a while. In fact, I sat down to read it and didn't look up until I'd finished.

Alana and Marko, two soldiers on opposing sides of a galactic war, fall in love and flee the conflict that has befallen their cultures.

The story opens as Alana is giving birth to the couple's child. The fledgling family is pursued by bounty hunters and soldiers from both factions as they seek a safe place to be together and raise their daughter.

"Saga" is fast-paced and action-packed, with gorgeous artwork. The writing is equally vivid and at times lyrical. The snarky Alana and idealistic Marko will hold your attention, and I definitely want to see more of the bounty hunter The Will in future editions.

A heads up: "Saga" is kept in the adult collection for a reason. There is salty language, nudity and sexual content throughout.

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