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Britten and Brulightly

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Britten and Brulightly Cover

ISBN13: 9780805089271
ISBN10: 0805089276
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A gorgeously drawn, strikingly original graphic-novel murder mystery

Private detective Fernández Britten is an old hand at confirming the dark suspicions of jealous lovers and exposing ugly truths of all varieties. Battered by years of bearing ill tidings, he clings to the hope of revealing, just once, a truth that will do some good in the world. It is a redemption that has long eluded him.

Then Britten and his unconventional partner, Brülightly, take on the mysterious death of Berni Kudos. The official verdict is suicide, but Bernis fiancée is convinced that the reality is something more sinister. Blackmail, revenge, murder: each new revelation stirs up the muddy waters of painful family secrets, and each fresh twist takes the partners further from Brittens longed-for salvation. Doing good in the world, he discovers, may have more to do with silence than truth.

A haunting story of love and grief, sharply written and luminously drawn, Britten and Brülightly is sure to establish Hannah Berry in the front rank of graphic novelists.

Brighton-based Hannah Berry, twenty-five years old, has contributed numerous illustrations to U.K. magazines. Britten and Brülightly is her first book.

A School Library Journal Best Adult Book for High School Students

A Texas Library Association Young Adult Round Table Recommended Graphic Novel

Private detective Fernández Britten is an old hand at confirming the dark suspicions of jealous lovers and exposing ugly truths of all varieties. Battered by years of bearing ill tidings, he clings to the hope of revealing, just once, a truth that will do some good in the world. It is a redemption that has long eluded him.

Then, Britten and his unconventional partner, Brülightly, take on the mysterious death of Berni Kudos. The official verdict is suicide, but Bernis fiancée is convinced that the reality is something more sinister. Blackmail, revenge, murder: each new revelation stirs up the muddy waters of painful family secrets, and each fresh twist takes the partners further from Brittens longed-for salvation. Doing good in the world, he discovers, may have more to do with silence than truth.

A haunting story of love and grief, sharply written and luminously drawn, Britten and Brülightly is sure to establish Hannah Berry in the front rank of graphic novelists.

"The touchy-feely vibe of Britten and Brülightly, an elegant graphic novel by Hannah Berry, has something to do with its format—the tall, slim, inviting layout of a picture book—but just as much to do with the intimate, even claustrophobic, content of its narrative. Set in London during some uneasy period when it rains without end on men in double-breasted suits and women in berets, the story tracks the metaphysical crisis of Fernández Britten, a melancholy 'private researcher' who has earned the nickname 'the Heartbreaker' for confirming the suspicions of clients who hire him to spy on their cheating lovers. After a career of exposing the bestiality of human nature, Britten longs to uncover a higher truth, the kind that elevates the beast and confers nobility on his own sleazy trade. The morose P.I., whose shadow-rimmed eyes and tiny, pinched mouth convey his despondent state, thinks hes found his means of redemption when an unhappy heiress hires him to disprove the police investigations conclusion that her fiancés death was a suicide. Instead of bringing her satisfaction or solace, Britten discovers a truth so ugly that his instinct is to suppress it. But what kind of hero would that make him? Its the classic existential bind of the postwar detective: a cynical sleuth tries to redeem his soul through a selfless act, only to find that honesty conflicts with an ingrained code of honor. Although Berry has her bit of fun with the genre traditions—notably in the bizarre detail that Brittens trusted partner, Stewart Brülightly, is (quite literally) a lecherous tea bag that, under stress, infuses in the detectives waistcoat pocket—she writes in a darkly poetic vein about love and betrayal, deceit and despair, in a plot so complex it would give Raymond Chandler a headache. Unlike the generations of trend-hopping moviemakers and novelists who have reduced the bleak noir sensibility to brutal acts committed in picturesque alleys, Berry uses her pen to capture the spiritual desolation of the human figures in her landscape. The lines of her drawings are sharp and penetrating, the monochromatic colors diluted in tearful washes of blues and blacks as she leans in to catch the insanity in a smile, the mute anger in the snuffing out of a cigarette. But the bravura storytelling device is the perspective, the eerie sense of disorientation as she swoops in to examine a parade of toy cowboys in an empty apartment or draws back to watch the rain lash two faraway figures with a single umbrella. From whichever angle you look at it, the truth doesnt bear telling in this cold and heartless world."—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

"It's not difficult to see why comics and crime suit each other well: brutal death invites a visceral response, and murder in pictures only amplifies that reaction further. Comics engage the reader with fast-paced stories and upped stakes, which fits perfectly within the boundaries of crime fiction's well-trod cadence of order from chaos. And at their best, comics and graphic novels create rich emotional landscapes through the artful mix of mood, color and line—the approximate equivalent of a Chandlerian metaphor or a terse phrase á la Hammett ripe for multiple interpretations. Such hopes are rare for crime in prose but are even scarcer with graphic novels, so when one comes along that hits the proverbial sweet spot of standout storytelling and ruminative reflection, the reader is advised to create a permanent space in his or her home library. That recommendation suffices . . . for Britten and Brülightly, 26-year-old Briton Hannah Berry's audacious, wise-beyond-years debut. Making a correlation between wisdom and age is deliberate, since Britten and Brülightly, with its 1940s setting and classic private detective setup, owes an obvious debt to Hammett, Chandler and the films noir that followed. But any expectation of straight pastiche dissipates with the very first panel, which depicts a dark-haired fellow hovering on the border of youth and middle age, his head lying against a neatly creased pillow with dark shadows circling his eyes, bathed in a kohl mixture of green, blue and gray that recurs throughout the narrative. For Fernandez Britten, the sun rises each day 'with spiteful inevitability,' a reminder of how far he's drifted away from his 10-years-earlier self "with the glorious aim of serving humanity and righting wrongs." It's hard enough to get out of bed for anything less than murder, burdened with a moniker—'The Heartbreaker'—befitting a man well used to confirming the worst suspicions of his paying clients. 'After a while every bombshell looks like the next,' Britten comes to realize, though that conclusion will ultimately doom him. Berry portrays Britten's lingering existential crisis beautifully, accentuating his tenuous grasp at a redemption he knows he cannot have by varying shades of gray and emphasizing London's infamous rainy mist at key moments of futility and despair. But she also lightens the mood at necessary points with the other half of the investigative team, Stuart Brülightly, whose Runyon-esque way with dialogue overcomes whatever handicaps ensue as a result of being, well, a teabag. (Britten: 'Don't be lecherous: you're a teabag.' Brülightly: 'I'm a teabag with needs.') This isn't an outright manifestation of id versus superego, but Brülightly's caustic bluntness serves as the proper counterpoint to Britten's beaten-down sense of righteous justice. Into the mix enters Charlotte Maughton, the diametric opposite of the Mickey Spillane villainess her name conjures up: too nervous to finish a whole cigarette, too enamored of her dead fiance Berni Kudos (and too convinced that his death by hanging was murder) to seduce Britten—and too invested in her version of her life as a daughter of a noted publishing scion to make sense of how Britten's investigation will render her careful illusions into minuscule shards of glass that can never be put back together in quite the same way. There will be beatings, blackmail, men who enter rooms with guns and women desperate to act in violent ways to protect those they love and secrets never meant to be shared, as befitting the best tales of the hard-boiled canon. But there will also be charming instances of eating flavored crumble, neighbors fervent in their belief in a religious road to salvation, a brutally comic loss of a finger ('the lingering ache a dull requiem for my chance of ever becoming a concert pianist') and a devastating one-page sequence that conveys the full emotional resonance of Charlotte discovering Berni's body—with only his dangling feet visible to the reader—in a single phrase, letting silence and lightened tones speak additional volumes. And so it should come as no surprise when Britten and Brülightly closes in full circle—Britten, again lying on a bed, his head against a neatly creased pillow, but now with his right hand holding an unfinished drink. Cycles repeat, mistakes are made again and again. Fernandez Britten may have saved at least one person from the truth, but what makes Berry's graphic novel linger long and move into a remarkable strata is how it understands the terrible price and awful sense of loneliness that comes to those seeking salvation when there is none to find."—Sarah Weinman, Los Angeles Times

"Illustrated with rich, dark, broody ink and watercolor drawings in an oversize format, Britten and Brülightly by British author Hannah berry is a slender tour de force . . . The prose is witty and often poetic, as in this description of an all-night greasy spoon: 'an oily no-man's-land of drowsy static, caught between sleep and wakefulness.' Or witty, as in this description of a religious nut who works in the office next door: 'a mouth that speaks unimpeded by thought.' More than a comic book, this graphic novel gives noir a new dimension."—Hallie Ephron, The Boston Globe

"Fernández Britten, the sunken-eyed P.I. at the center of Hannah Berry's first graphic novel, Britten and Brülightly, actually does want to do good in the world, but being a detective isn't really a way to accomplish that: All he does is tell people awful truths, and it has led him to develop something of a death wish. His horny, irritable partner, Stewart Brülightly, is a bag of tea—literally—which is both a gesture of surreal whimsy and a suggestion that Britten may not be an entirely reliable narrator. Berry's story grabs and gently wrings every noir trope within reach, beginning with the hard-faced babe who hires Britten to prove that her fiancé's death—which sure looked like suicide—was actually foul play. As the detective and his faithful teabag wander through a city where it's almost always drizzling, they encounter sleazy businessmen, uncover a blackmail-and-murder plot so Byzantine it threatens to collapse into a black hole, and sink into inescapable existential despair. (Berry's watercolor palette, heavy on the greens and blues, makes all of her scenery seem residually damp, musty and underlit.) The mystery story gradually inverts itself into an assault on the entire premise of mystery stories—that the discovery of truth brings disinfecting sunlight—as Britten comes to discover that enlightenment and clarity can cause nothing but heartbreak and calamity, and that 'absolute morality is a luxury for the short-sighted.'"—Douglas Wolk, The Washington Post

"This spellbinding graphic novel is a page-turner that pays artistic homage to the noir aesthetic of yester-year . . . The author, Hannah Berry, paints a complex psychological portrait of a dejected man whose line of business has him constantly surrounded by heartbreak and death. Likewise, Berry's whodunit plot line is full of poetic twists that are as superbly crafted as the characters within it. The plot quickly thickens, yet this graphic novel should not be hurriedly thumbed through. Like a cup of warm English tea on a rainy day, this novel is best if you give it time to brew and take it in slowly."—Libby Zay, Bust magazine

“'I dont get out of bed for less than a murder. I dont get out of bed much.' So begins Hannah Berrys noir odyssey, a graphic novel in the muted tones of sepia, blue and grey, private investigator Fernandez Britten emotionally exhausted by the demands of clients whose lovers and spouses indulge in infidelity. Bored with his profession, nicknamed Heartbreaker and accused of being French, the Ecuadorian has decided only to stir when more is at stake than deceit. So when the daughter of a wealthy publisher asks for a meeting to discuss her fiancés recent suicide, Britten agrees. Charlotte believes Berni Kudos would never have killed himself before their impending marriage. Intrigued, Britten begins a search for the truth that will yield blackmail, revenge and murder, a complicated blend of selfish motives, broken promises and dark secrets. Accompanied by his acerbic companion, Brülightly—who is only ever revealed by the presence of a tea bag—Britten finds a web of purposeful deceit and violence, left finally with a bump on his head and the little finger on one hand amputated. Unwilling to submit to threat, Britten doggedly persists, unraveling piece by piece the fragments of the past that led to Bernis untimely death. From rain-washed streets where menacing strangers lurk to the quiet corridors of the Maughton estate, from a hospital file room to a secluded restaurant booth, Berrys dark images imbue the graphic novel with menace and dread, the investigators dour mien unchanged from event to event. From the sophisticated Charlotte to a gun-toting intruder in Bernis flat, the story is peppered with eccentric characters, a devious plot hiding a painful secret. The pages filled with Brittens haunted face and a series of unpredictable situations, this is noir fiction dressed in a fascinating costume, dark humor dressed to kill."—Curled Up with a Good Book

"The distinctive tone of Berrys first graphic novel is established in the first sentence: 'As it did with spiteful inevitability, the sun rose.' With somber, gray-hued illustrations and a running commentary that echoes Raymond Chandler, Berry delivers an inspired new twist on detective fiction . . . While the tragic denouement here does not bode well for any sequels, Berry is an exciting new talent whose further contributions are to be eagerly anticipated."—Carl Hays, Booklist

Review:

"Berry's impressive graphic novel debut — published to much praise last year in Great Britain — mixes classic noir, a timeless story of love and loss and a shot of black humor with gloomy 1940s London as the perfect backdrop. PI Fernndez Britten is known as the Heartbreaker: he's the one who follows cheating spouses and delivers news that ruins marriages. When glamorous Charlotte Maughton, the daughter of children's publishing magnate Maurice Maughton, hires him to look into the alleged suicide of her fianc, Berni Kudos, Britten glumly takes the case. With his trusty sidekick, Stewart Brlightly — who just happens to be a teabag — Britten begins sniffing around Kudos's job at Maughton Publishing, keeping in mind Charlotte's suspicion that her fianc's death could be tied to a blackmailing scheme aimed at her powerful father. The deeper Britten digs, the more mired he becomes in a pit of long-festering family secrets. For a man who's made his living telling the truth, Britten begins to realize that there are some instances when it's best to stay quiet. Gorgeously illustrated with a cartoony but expressive style, with a richly detailed story and empathetically conflicted hero, Berry's debut should be a hit." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

A haunting story of love and grief, "Britten and Brulightly" is a gorgeously drawn, strikingly original graphic novel-style murder mystery.

Synopsis:

A gorgeously drawn, strikingly original graphic-novel murder mystery

Private detective Fernández Britten is an old hand at confirming the dark suspicions of jealous lovers and exposing ugly truths of all varieties. Battered by years of bearing ill tidings, he clings to the hope of revealing, just once, a truth that will do some good in the world. It is a redemption that has long eluded him.

Then Britten and his unconventional partner, Brülightly, take on the mysterious death of Berni Kudos. The official verdict is suicide, but Bernis fiancée is convinced that the reality is something more sinister. Blackmail, revenge, murder: each new revelation stirs up the muddy waters of painful family secrets, and each fresh twist takes the partners further from Brittens longed-for salvation. Doing good in the world, he discovers, may have more to do with silence than truth.

A haunting story of love and grief, sharply written and luminously drawn, Britten and Brülightly is sure to establish Hannah Berry in the front rank of graphic novelists.

Brighton-based Hannah Berry, twenty-five years old, has contributed numerous illustrations to U.K. magazines. Britten and Brülightly is her first book.

A School Library Journal Best Adult Book for High School Students

A Texas Library Association Young Adult Round Table Recommended Graphic Novel

Private detective Fernández Britten is an old hand at confirming the dark suspicions of jealous lovers and exposing ugly truths of all varieties. Battered by years of bearing ill tidings, he clings to the hope of revealing, just once, a truth that will do some good in the world. It is a redemption that has long eluded him.

Then, Britten and his unconventional partner, Brülightly, take on the mysterious death of Berni Kudos. The official verdict is suicide, but Bernis fiancée is convinced that the reality is something more sinister. Blackmail, revenge, murder: each new revelation stirs up the muddy waters of painful family secrets, and each fresh twist takes the partners further from Brittens longed-for salvation. Doing good in the world, he discovers, may have more to do with silence than truth.

A haunting story of love and grief, sharply written and luminously drawn, Britten and Brülightly is sure to establish Hannah Berry in the front rank of graphic novelists.

"The touchy-feely vibe of Britten and Brülightly, an elegant graphic novel by Hannah Berry, has something to do with its formatthe tall, slim, inviting layout of a picture bookbut just as much to do with the intimate, even claustrophobic, content of its narrative. Set in London during some uneasy period when it rains without end on men in double-breasted suits and women in berets, the story tracks the metaphysical crisis of Fernández Britten, a melancholy 'private researcher' who has earned the nickname 'the Heartbreaker' for confirming the suspicions of clients who hire him to spy on their cheating lovers. After a career of exposing the bestiality of human nature, Britten longs to uncover a higher truth, the kind that elevates the beast and confers nobility on his own sleazy trade. The morose P.I., whose shadow-rimmed eyes and tiny, pinched mouth convey his despondent state, thinks hes found his means of redemption when an unhappy heiress hires him to disprove the police investigations conclusion that her fiancés death was a suicide. Instead of bringing her satisfaction or solace, Britten discovers a truth so ugly that his instinct is to suppress it. But what kind of hero would that make him? Its the classic existential bind of the postwar detective: a cynical sleuth tries to redeem his soul through a selfless act, only to find that honesty conflicts with an ingrained code of honor. Although Berry has her bit of fun with the genre traditionsnotably in the bizarre detail that Brittens trusted partner, Stewart Brülightly, is (quite literally) a lecherous tea bag that, under stress, infuses in the detectives waistcoat pocketshe writes in a darkly poetic vein about love and betrayal, deceit and despair, in a plot so complex it would give Raymond Chandler a headache. Unlike the generations of trend-hopping moviemakers and novelists who have reduced the bleak noir sensibility to brutal acts committed in picturesque alleys, Berry uses her pen to capture the spiritual desolation of the human figures in her landscape. The lines of her drawings are sharp and penetrating, the monochromatic colors diluted in tearful washes of blues and blacks as she leans in to catch the insanity in a smile, the mute anger in the snuffing out of a cigarette. But the bravura storytelling device is the perspective, the eerie sense of disorientation as she swoops in to examine a parade of toy cowboys in an empty apartment or draws back to watch the rain lash two faraway figures with a single umbrella. From whichever angle you look at it, the truth doesnt bear telling in this cold and heartless world."Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

"The distinctive tone of Berrys first graphic novel is established in the first sentence: 'As it did with spiteful inevitability, the sun rose.' With somber, gray-hued illustrations and a running commentary that echoes Raymond Chandler, Berry delivers an inspired new twist on detective fiction . . . While the tragic denouement here does not bode well for any sequels, Berry is an exciting new talent whose further contributions are to be eagerly anticipated."Carl Hays, Booklist

Synopsis:

A gorgeously drawn, strikingly original graphic-novel murder mystery

Private detective Fernández Britten is an old hand at confirming the dark suspicions of jealous lovers and exposing ugly truths of all varieties. Battered by years of bearing ill tidings, he clings to the hope of revealing, just once, a truth that will do some good in the world. It is a redemption that has long eluded him.

Then Britten and his unconventional partner, Brülightly, take on the mysterious death of Berni Kudos. The official verdict is suicide, but Bernis fiancée is convinced that the reality is something more sinister. Blackmail, revenge, murder: each new revelation stirs up the muddy waters of painful family secrets, and each fresh twist takes the partners further from Brittens longed-for salvation. Doing good in the world, he discovers, may have more to do with silence than truth.

A haunting story of love and grief, sharply written and luminously drawn, Britten and Brülightly is sure to establish Hannah Berry in the front rank of graphic novelists.

About the Author

Brighton-based Hannah Berry, twenty-five years old, has contributed numerous illustrations to U.K. magazines. Britten and Brülightly is her first book.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Gypsi, January 29, 2011 (view all comments by Gypsi)

Britten and Brülightly is a well written, fantastically illustrated noir mystery. Britten is a private detective who, for years, has specialized so in the tawdry love triangle cases that he has been publicly nicknamed "the Heartbreaker". Despite the encouraging words of his much more upbeat partner, Brülightly, Britten has become tired of both his job and his life. "I don't get out of bed for less than a murder," he said, and it potential murder that persuaded him to crawl out of bed into the public again.


Britten has been contacted by Charlotte Maughan after the apparent suicide of her fiance. To her, the pieces don't fit; she feels it must be a murder made to look like a suicide and hires him to investigate.

Britten and Brülightly is film noir in a graphic novel; it is by far the best written noir I have encountered. It contains the clasic elements of great noir : a fractured and down main character; a beautiful lady needing assistance; a complex mystery; realistic (leaning toward the unhappy) ending and leaves the reader or viewer sitting silent in amazement.


Berry's amazing art fits and adds to the story and to the noir feel perfectly. The predominant rain and gray days, the angles and corners, and the nearly monochrome color scheme enhance the feel of the story tremendously. The composition and "film angle", if you will, of the panels is that of a well done movie. They are not the common waist up, front on panels that are so predominant in the average graphic novel. From above, from below, half faces, close-ups: all are used to make an enormous contribution to both plot and ambiance. Berry's particular attention to hands is fantastic.

I had one small complaint: the story is hand written in a font that was, only at times, hard to interpret certain words. Oddly enough, though I had to squint and struggle, I found that in the end this rather added to the story, to the feel of uncertainty, mystery and confusion that were so prevalent in the story.

Britten and Brülightly simply awed me. It's a dark tale, and not a particularly happy one, but totally engrossing and simply stunning--text and image--from the first line ("As it did every morning with spiteful inevitability, the sun rose.") to that last breathtaking scene.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Larry Robinson, May 19, 2009 (view all comments by Larry Robinson)
This is a fine noir graphic novel. As convoluted as The Big Sleep, and the art work is fabulous.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780805089271
Author:
Berry, Hannah
Publisher:
Metropolitan Books
Author:
Hannah Berry
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - General
Subject:
CGN004010
Subject:
Crime & Mystery
Subject:
Graphic Novels
Subject:
Comic books, strips, etc.
Subject:
Mystery
Subject:
Detective / General
Subject:
Graphic Novels-Crime and Mystery
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
20090317
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Includes color illustrations throughout
Pages:
112
Dimensions:
11.69 x 8.25 in

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Graphic Novels » Alternative
Fiction and Poetry » Graphic Novels » Crime and Mystery
Fiction and Poetry » Graphic Novels » General
Fiction and Poetry » Graphic Novels » Oversized Books

Britten and Brulightly Sale Trade Paper
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Product details 112 pages Metropolitan Books - English 9780805089271 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Berry's impressive graphic novel debut — published to much praise last year in Great Britain — mixes classic noir, a timeless story of love and loss and a shot of black humor with gloomy 1940s London as the perfect backdrop. PI Fernndez Britten is known as the Heartbreaker: he's the one who follows cheating spouses and delivers news that ruins marriages. When glamorous Charlotte Maughton, the daughter of children's publishing magnate Maurice Maughton, hires him to look into the alleged suicide of her fianc, Berni Kudos, Britten glumly takes the case. With his trusty sidekick, Stewart Brlightly — who just happens to be a teabag — Britten begins sniffing around Kudos's job at Maughton Publishing, keeping in mind Charlotte's suspicion that her fianc's death could be tied to a blackmailing scheme aimed at her powerful father. The deeper Britten digs, the more mired he becomes in a pit of long-festering family secrets. For a man who's made his living telling the truth, Britten begins to realize that there are some instances when it's best to stay quiet. Gorgeously illustrated with a cartoony but expressive style, with a richly detailed story and empathetically conflicted hero, Berry's debut should be a hit." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , A haunting story of love and grief, "Britten and Brulightly" is a gorgeously drawn, strikingly original graphic novel-style murder mystery.
"Synopsis" by ,

A gorgeously drawn, strikingly original graphic-novel murder mystery

Private detective Fernández Britten is an old hand at confirming the dark suspicions of jealous lovers and exposing ugly truths of all varieties. Battered by years of bearing ill tidings, he clings to the hope of revealing, just once, a truth that will do some good in the world. It is a redemption that has long eluded him.

Then Britten and his unconventional partner, Brülightly, take on the mysterious death of Berni Kudos. The official verdict is suicide, but Bernis fiancée is convinced that the reality is something more sinister. Blackmail, revenge, murder: each new revelation stirs up the muddy waters of painful family secrets, and each fresh twist takes the partners further from Brittens longed-for salvation. Doing good in the world, he discovers, may have more to do with silence than truth.

A haunting story of love and grief, sharply written and luminously drawn, Britten and Brülightly is sure to establish Hannah Berry in the front rank of graphic novelists.

Brighton-based Hannah Berry, twenty-five years old, has contributed numerous illustrations to U.K. magazines. Britten and Brülightly is her first book.

A School Library Journal Best Adult Book for High School Students

A Texas Library Association Young Adult Round Table Recommended Graphic Novel

Private detective Fernández Britten is an old hand at confirming the dark suspicions of jealous lovers and exposing ugly truths of all varieties. Battered by years of bearing ill tidings, he clings to the hope of revealing, just once, a truth that will do some good in the world. It is a redemption that has long eluded him.

Then, Britten and his unconventional partner, Brülightly, take on the mysterious death of Berni Kudos. The official verdict is suicide, but Bernis fiancée is convinced that the reality is something more sinister. Blackmail, revenge, murder: each new revelation stirs up the muddy waters of painful family secrets, and each fresh twist takes the partners further from Brittens longed-for salvation. Doing good in the world, he discovers, may have more to do with silence than truth.

A haunting story of love and grief, sharply written and luminously drawn, Britten and Brülightly is sure to establish Hannah Berry in the front rank of graphic novelists.

"The touchy-feely vibe of Britten and Brülightly, an elegant graphic novel by Hannah Berry, has something to do with its formatthe tall, slim, inviting layout of a picture bookbut just as much to do with the intimate, even claustrophobic, content of its narrative. Set in London during some uneasy period when it rains without end on men in double-breasted suits and women in berets, the story tracks the metaphysical crisis of Fernández Britten, a melancholy 'private researcher' who has earned the nickname 'the Heartbreaker' for confirming the suspicions of clients who hire him to spy on their cheating lovers. After a career of exposing the bestiality of human nature, Britten longs to uncover a higher truth, the kind that elevates the beast and confers nobility on his own sleazy trade. The morose P.I., whose shadow-rimmed eyes and tiny, pinched mouth convey his despondent state, thinks hes found his means of redemption when an unhappy heiress hires him to disprove the police investigations conclusion that her fiancés death was a suicide. Instead of bringing her satisfaction or solace, Britten discovers a truth so ugly that his instinct is to suppress it. But what kind of hero would that make him? Its the classic existential bind of the postwar detective: a cynical sleuth tries to redeem his soul through a selfless act, only to find that honesty conflicts with an ingrained code of honor. Although Berry has her bit of fun with the genre traditionsnotably in the bizarre detail that Brittens trusted partner, Stewart Brülightly, is (quite literally) a lecherous tea bag that, under stress, infuses in the detectives waistcoat pocketshe writes in a darkly poetic vein about love and betrayal, deceit and despair, in a plot so complex it would give Raymond Chandler a headache. Unlike the generations of trend-hopping moviemakers and novelists who have reduced the bleak noir sensibility to brutal acts committed in picturesque alleys, Berry uses her pen to capture the spiritual desolation of the human figures in her landscape. The lines of her drawings are sharp and penetrating, the monochromatic colors diluted in tearful washes of blues and blacks as she leans in to catch the insanity in a smile, the mute anger in the snuffing out of a cigarette. But the bravura storytelling device is the perspective, the eerie sense of disorientation as she swoops in to examine a parade of toy cowboys in an empty apartment or draws back to watch the rain lash two faraway figures with a single umbrella. From whichever angle you look at it, the truth doesnt bear telling in this cold and heartless world."Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

"The distinctive tone of Berrys first graphic novel is established in the first sentence: 'As it did with spiteful inevitability, the sun rose.' With somber, gray-hued illustrations and a running commentary that echoes Raymond Chandler, Berry delivers an inspired new twist on detective fiction . . . While the tragic denouement here does not bode well for any sequels, Berry is an exciting new talent whose further contributions are to be eagerly anticipated."Carl Hays, Booklist

"Synopsis" by ,

A gorgeously drawn, strikingly original graphic-novel murder mystery

Private detective Fernández Britten is an old hand at confirming the dark suspicions of jealous lovers and exposing ugly truths of all varieties. Battered by years of bearing ill tidings, he clings to the hope of revealing, just once, a truth that will do some good in the world. It is a redemption that has long eluded him.

Then Britten and his unconventional partner, Brülightly, take on the mysterious death of Berni Kudos. The official verdict is suicide, but Bernis fiancée is convinced that the reality is something more sinister. Blackmail, revenge, murder: each new revelation stirs up the muddy waters of painful family secrets, and each fresh twist takes the partners further from Brittens longed-for salvation. Doing good in the world, he discovers, may have more to do with silence than truth.

A haunting story of love and grief, sharply written and luminously drawn, Britten and Brülightly is sure to establish Hannah Berry in the front rank of graphic novelists.

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