cover image A Treasury of Victorian Murder: The Borden Tragedy

A Treasury of Victorian Murder: The Borden Tragedy

Rick Geary. Nantier Beall Minoustchine Publishing, $8.95 (80pp) ISBN 978-1-56163-189-6

Comics artist Geary returns with another typically superlative work, the third in his series, A Treasury of Victorian Murder. As in his Jack the Ripper, Geary uses a fictional narrator to present a stylish, painstakingly researched treatment of the gruesome 1892 ax-murders of Abby and Andrew Borden in Falls River, Mass., and of the investigation, trial, and public and media spectacle that followed. The unsolved Borden murders have passed into folklore (""Lizzie Borden took an ax, gave her mother forty whacks"") and the question of Lizzie's guilt (she was acquitted but remained under suspicion for the rest of her life) remains unanswered in Geary's book. It's Geary's artfully precise reconstruction of turn-of-the-century Falls River that makes his work so haunting, and such a delight. Geary carefully re-creates the layout of the town (complete with maps); the history, quirks and familial resentments of the prominent Borden family; and, of course, the bloody hatchet murders themselves, complete with minute details of the police investigation and a look at the forensic techniques of the time. His marvelous black-and-white drawings alternate a heavy, sensuous line with more delicate linear accents, deftly capturing the architecture, clothing, objects and everyday details of small-town life in the 1890s. (Feb.)