cover image Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes

Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes

Matt Kindt. First Second, $26.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-59643-662-6

The unusual title might leave readers a bit unsure what to expect from the latest effort by Kindt (Revolver, Super Spy). As it turns out, however, the book is nothing short of exceptional. Featuring a series of what at first seem to be unrelated crimes that take place in the fictional town of Red Wheelbarrow, the narrative slowly begins to reveal that these strange offences are, in fact, connected. Detective Gould, the investigative genius of the story, must deal with (among other things) a compulsive chair hoarder, a brilliant art thief, and an elevator repairman with a disturbing penchant for photography; but he can never be sure who is ultimately behind the surge in criminal activity. It’s a kind of homage to the detective writers of days gone by, complete with press clippings from the Red Wheelbarrow Gazette as well as recurring features like “The Detective’s Wife” and “Tess’ True Heart.” As with William Carlos Williams’s ingenious poem, “The Red Wheelbarrow,” simplicity hides much meaning. Whether it’s Kindt’s brilliant use of a muted color palette contrasting with ominous swaths of inky black or cryptic pictureless dialogue exchanges that appear at key moments, Kindt understands perfectly how to reveal his mystery to the reader. (May)