09. A Sickness in the Family by Denise Mina

A Sickness in the Family by Denise Mina. Art by Antonio Fuso (Canada) - (US)
Vertigo Crime series

Pages: 180
Ages: 18+
Finished: Jan. 10, 2011
First Published: Oct. 19, 2010
Publisher: Vertigo
Genre: graphic novel, mystery
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

So she's finally dead?

Acquired: Received a review copy from Random House Canada.

Reason for Reading: I love that the pure mystery/thriller/crime genre is so much more easily found in the graphic novel format now. I'll always take a look when I see one and the plot had me on this book.

They could be your typical family: Ted and Biddy Usher, Biddy's mom Martha, and the three grown children, with the youngest in his last year of his school, William, Amy and Sam. But they are not, typical that is. It is Christmas and in the basement flat they rent out a horrendous murder takes place. Ted quickly makes plans to incorporate that portion back into the house as he'd been wanting to for years. Then family members start to die. One by one. Is it because of the wrath of a witch who was burnt at the stake there in the 1500s? Or has one of the remaining family members decided to get rid of the rest, each of whom has a surprisingly good reason for wanting the others dead?

An incredibly creepy murder mystery. Well-written with a plot that picks up suspense as it goes along and is quite difficult to solve since suspects keep getting killed themselves and the pool of possible suspects to pick from gets smaller and smaller. A delightfully tense and surprise ending with a final shocker on the last page. This is Mina's first graphic novel. She has previously written mystery novels and one series of comics. I am quite interested in reading something else by this author if this is an example of her technique. The artwork is done in black and white with a lot of shadows which I think is particularly suitable to this story (and others of its sort) as it captures the noir feeling that wold be missing if the gruesome scenes were shown in full colour.

Just the sort of thing I like in a murder mystery, gruesome, creepy and a shocker at the end.


  1. I put this on hold at the library. I hope to squeeze it in my readings.

  2. I accidentally received a graphic novel for Shutter Island through a swap (I thought I was getting the full-print version). My daughter read it and LOVED it. I like your review of this particular graphic novel, too.


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