“Ends on an absolute high” – Grandville Force Majeure by Bryan Talbot

IMG_27Aug2021at195006We cannot shield you from the bad news (even though Talbot seeks to keep the joys of Grandville unadulterated, slipping the gleaming nugget we are about to share with you on the last page of this book): this is the last outing for Detective-Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard. “Not only do I want to quit while I’m ahead,” Talbot writes,

“(and I do think that this is the best story and artwork so far) but the Grandville art style is far too time consuming. Each page takes three to four ten hour days, not counting the scripting.”

And so, the arrival of Force Majeure is bittersweet. And yet, the longest entry in the series is also, as Talbot says, quite possibly the best. You’ll remember we were introduced to a brand new villain at the close of Grandville Noel back in 2014 – a red dinosaur (who looks very much like Devil Dinosaur, albeit in a suit) called Tiberius Koenig who, having taken over and consolidated all of the criminal outfits in Paris is now looking to do the same with the gangs in London (one of whom, an outfit clearly modelled on the Krays, our erstwhile hero LeBrock has an enduring beef with). The book opens (as we’ve come to expect) with a Bond-style setpiece, on this occasion a fish restaurant laid waste by machine guns – the idea being that one London gang has attempted to start a gang war with another (but of course we know pretty much from the outset that this is Koenig, making his move). What’s more, LeBrock (who is gearing up to wed his long-term lover Billie) is spotted murdering a gang boss and finds himself on the run, trying to stay one step ahead of his own men as he attempts to get to the bottom of what Koenig is up to.

As you’d expect from Talbot, not only are there enough sub plots to make your head spin (one involving a Holmes-like incompetent whose stories are forever embellished and written up for consumption by the addle-headed public, one involving LeBrock’s mentor, who we would have liked to see more of if there were going to be more Grandville outings, and a terrific twist at the end involving police corruption), there are also respectful nods to other writers Talbot respects (the book is dedicated to Leo Baxendale, one of Talbot’s great friends, who created the Bash Street Kids and Korky the Kat – and you can spy Korky on a number of occasions throughout the book), as well as himself in the figure of Byron Turbot.

Asides aside, however, it is the nature of the narrative, at once complex and compelling, that will keep the reader reading (and all of the Grandville books are pleasures that repay further reads down the line – Force Majeure is no exception to that rule). Turbot – sorry, Talbot seems to be having a lot of fun (even taking into account how time consuming these books are).

Any Cop?: It’s certainly a shame that this is the last in the series but Talbot has undoubtedly ended things on an absolute high.

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