Is an interesting idea enough? The premise for Marc-Antoine Mathieu’s latest graphic novel is an interesting one alright – a detective novel that lasts only three seconds (in a sense) as a beam of light zings every which way, over the shoulders of a couple of individuals and taking in a man looking at a phone whilst another man, behind him, takes aim at his head with a gun, reflecting off an elaborate vase, a compact mirror, a lightshade, a porch door, a motorbike’s wing mirror, a watch, a mirror, a spoon, on and on, this way and that, up into the heavens, out into the universe and all the way back again, encompassing a football scandal, a solitary gunman, Russian oligarchs (possibly), football hooligans barking on a plane, a trip to the dentist, the death of a fly, a skull straight out of Damian Hirst’s workshop, into a fat man’s mouth and out again – around and around we go. There is a mystery and a scandal, a disaster and a murder (possibly) but is there an opportunity for the reader to gain purchase or is it a shiny curiosity?
3″ is a ‘hybrid’ work, available in both paper and digital versions and readers are recommended to check out www.3secondmystery.com to uncover new leads. But would they want to? This reader is not convinced. A series of questions at the opening of the book are relatively easily answered and the mystery at the heart of the book doesn’t take a great deal of work to be uncovered – but the difficulty of the mystery isn’t the problem (if it was more difficult, it would make the book harder to love). As it is, the book poses the question of what a reader needs – and quite possibly what a reader needs is a character, something more than a device that makes a book interesting. You ping every which way and then, if you want to give the book a chance, you start afresh and ping again and maybe again (you can get through the book from one side to the other quite quickly) – because you want to give it some time to work its magic on you. But it doesn’t work its magic because it is cold to the touch. It’s a shiny zirconium cube of a book. Arresting, certainly, interesting, yes, but lacking that ineffable thing that makes a graphic novel worth reading.
Any Cop?: A cerebral visual exercise that didn’t quite float this particular reader’s boat.