Monday, September 06, 2021

A Conspiracy of Faith by Jussi Adler-Olsen


(hb; 2013: third book in the Department Q series. Translated from the Danish by Martin Aitkin.)

From the inside flap

“Detective Carl Mørck holds in his hands a bottle that contains an old and decaying message, written in blood. It is a cry for help from two young brothers, tied and bound in a boathouse by the sea. Could it be real? Who are these boys, and why aren’t they reported missing? Could they possibly still be alive?

“Carl’s investigation will force him to cross paths with a woman stuck in a desperate marriage─her husband refuses to tell her where he goes, what he does, how long he will be away. For days on end she waits, and when he returns she must endure his wants, his needs, his moods, his threats. But enough is enough. She will find out the truth, no matter the cost to her husband─or to herself.

“Carl and his colleagues Assad and Rose must use all of their resources to uncover the horrifying truth. . .”



Conspiracy is another slick, entertaining and thrill ride of a police procedural in the Department Q series, suspenseful and twist-filled, with supporting characters (e.g.  Assad and Rose)─with their secrets, some of them easy to suss out─who evolve in tone-consistent and surprising ways. Adler-Olsen again balances dark horrors with humor and warmth, and it’s a winning combination of tone and overall talent; top-notch mainstream work, this. Followed by The Purity of Vengeance.


The resulting Danish film, Department Q: A Conspiracy of Faith, was released on March 6, 2016. Hans Petter Moland directed it, from Nicolaj Arcel and Mikkel Nørgaard’s concept.

Nikolaj Lie Kaas reprised his role of Carl Mørck (from Department Q: The Keeper of Lost Causes and Department Q: The Absent One). Fares Fares reprised his role of Assad (from the aforementioned prequels). Johanne Louise Schmidt reprised her role of Rose Knudsen (from The Absent One).

Amanda Collin played Rakel. Søren Pilmark reprised his role of Marcus Jacobsen. Morton Kirkskov reprised his role of Lars Bjørn (from the first two films). Michael Brostup reprised his role of Børge Bak (from the first two films). Jakob Oftebro played Pasgård.

Louis Sylvester Larsen play Trygve. Pål Sverre Hagen played Johannes. Lotte Andersen played Mia.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Replay by Ken Grimwood


(hb; 1986)

From the inside flap

“We have all fantasies about it. Especially men like Jeff Winston. At 43, he’s trapped in a tepid marriage and a dead-end job. Until he has a sudden, fatal heart attack and awakens in his eighteen-year-old body in 1963.

“Staring at a Playboy centerfold on his college dorm room wall, Jeff Winston realizes that his memories of the next 25 years are intact. He knows the future of stocks like IBM and Xerox. He knows who will win the Kentucky Derby. He is going to replay his life─living once again through the assassinations of the 1960s, Vietnam, Watergate, the Reagan revolution.

“The odds against the Dodgers winning the 1963 World Series in four straight games are astronomical. But Jeff makes a bet and with the money that brings him, he builds a multibillion-dollar fortune, becomes one of the most powerful men in the world.

“And again. . .

“Until he turns 43 and dies again. When he awakens in 1963, he can make other choices. . . from uninhibited hedonism to a search for understanding. Or perhaps love─with a woman who, like Jeff, is a replayer. How many more times must they lose each other and all they hold dear? And why have they been chosen to replay their lives?”



Replay is a mainstream, well-paced and character-centric science fiction/reliving-your-life novel, solid in its descriptions and story-freshening elements to keep it entertaining and interesting. Good read, this, worth checking out.

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

The Sandman: The Wake by Neil Gaiman and various artists


(1995-6, 2012 – graphic novel, collects issues 70-75 of the comic book The Sandman. Introduction” by Mikal Gilmore. Eleventh book in the thirteen-book Sandman graphic novel series.)


Overall review

Wake is a solid wrap-up to the original run of The Sandman comic books (additional books within the series are later-published prequels or side stories). For the most part, it’s short and sharp (with the exception of issue 75, “The Tempest,” which runs long). Great series.

As in previous Sandman graphic novels, the artists, letterers and colorists who bring Gaiman’s transcend-the-genre writing to vivid, distinctive representation.


Review, issue by issue

The Wake: Chapter One” (#70): “Dreamers, guests, celebrants and mourners” gather in the necropolis Litharge “at stony crossroads in the shadow of the Quinsy Mountains” to acknowledge Morpheus’s death. Meanwhile, his successor─the new Dream of the Endless, previously known as Daneil Hall─holds court with a select few (Cain, etc.).


The Wake: Chapter Two” (#71): More conversations between the new incarnation of the Dream of the Endless and his immediate staff are shown as are other guests─a few of them cape-and-cowl types and supernatural magicians.


The Wake: Chapter Three” (#72): The Wake begins in earnest. Matthew the raven decides what the next phase of his life will be. Dream of the Endless prepares to meet his siblings.


The Wake: Chapter Four” (#73): In modern times, Rob Gadling─actually Morpheus’s undying drinking buddy Hob Gadling─attends a Renaissance Faire with his girlfriend (Gwen). Gadling has a conversation with one of Morpheus’s siblings, who has a pertinent question for him.


Exile” (#74): An older Asian man has a dream about a desert, a kitten, and Morpheus.


The Tempest” (#75): 1610 AD. Will Shakespeare writes, has conversations with his daughter (Judith) and his wife, and is visited by Morpheus.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Absent One by Jussi Adler-Olsen


(hb; 2012: second book in the Department Q series. Translated from the Danish by K.E. Semmel.)

From the inside flap

“[Detective Carl] Mørck is satisfied with the notion of picking up long-cold leads. So he’s naturally intrigued when a closed case lands on his desk. A brother and sister were brutally murdered two decades earlier, and one of the suspects─part of a group of privileged boarding-school students─confessed and was convicted.

“But when Mørck reopens the files, it becomes clear that all is not what it seems. Looking into the supposedly solved case leads him to Kimmie, a woman living on the streetsk, stealing to survive. Kimmie has mastered evading the police, but now they aren’t the only ones looking for her─because Kimmie has secrets that certain influential individuals would kill to keep buried. . . as well as one of her own that could turn everything on its head.”



Like the previous Department Q novel The Keeper of Lost Causes, Absent is an entertaining, slick and hard-to-set-down thriller/police procedural, this entry with particularly well-to-do and sadistic villains and a fascinating antihero (Kimmie) who’s stalking them. There are few surprises in Absent, but it’s still a good genre read, worth owning. Followed by A Conspiracy of Faith.


The resulting 2014 Danish film, Department Q: The Absent One, was released in Denmark on November 23, 2014.

Mikkel Nørgaard directed the film, from a screenplay by Rasmus Heisterberg, based on Nikolaj Arcel’s concept.

Nikolaj Lie Kaas played Carl Mørck. Fares Fares played Hafez el-Assad. Søren Pilmark played Marcus Jacobsen. Morton Kirkskov played Lars Bjørn. Johanne Louis Schmidt played Rose.

Danica Curcic played Kimmie Katherine Greis-Rosenthal played Tine.

Pilou Asbӕk played Ditlev Pram. David Dencik played Ulrik Dybbøl.

Darkman: The Gods of Hell by Randall Boyll


(pb; 1994; third entry in the book-only Darkman quadrilogy)

From the back cover

Darkman: Once Peyton Westlake was a brilliant scientist conducing ground-breaking work with artificial skin─but his life was changed forever when vicious gangsters destroyed his lab and left him horribly burned beyond recognition. At that moment, Peyton Westlake died and re-emerged from the hellish fire as DARKMAN, a creature of the night driven by superhuman rage. Using his artificial skin process and his ability to become anyone for ninety-nine minutes, DARKMAN extracted a deadly revenge on the men who destroyed his life.

“Now, across the city, children are disappearing, and the niece of Darkman’s former fiancée, Julie Hastings, is the latest victim. Searching for the kidnappers, Darkman stumbles across a strange cult sacrificing the children in a quest for immortality. Forced to infiltrate the group, Darkman must confront the diabolical plan’s evil mastermind, a deadly killer with a tortured past who will stop at nothing to find the secret of everlasting life.”



A few days have passed since the events of the last Darkman book, The Price of Fear. Julie Hastings is recovering from Alfred Lowell/Witchfinder’s gasoline-soaked burning attack when the pestiferous Detective Sam Weatherspoon, investigating the Witchfinder’s assaults, tells her that her brother and sister-in-law (Jerry and Margaret Hastings) were killed in a home invasion. One of their young daughters, Tina, escaped harm and capture, while her tween sister (Shawna) was kidnapped by unknown criminals─the seventh kidnapping in a string of them.

Unbeknownst to Julie, Weatherspoon, and Darkman (a.k.a. Peyton Westlake, Julie’s ex-fiance) these crimes are being carried out by thugs, Pocketknife (a.k.a. Percy Hursch) and Flynn, at the behest of a desperate former-evangelist cult leader, Reverend Norman Hopewell, whose “Ceremonies of Youthful Defilement” require fresh female virgins.

Also in the pulptastic, fast-paced mix: Martin Clayborne, rich “local real estate developer” (from The Price of Fear), who continues to show romantic interest in Julie, and Darla Dalton, a mysterious woman who shows similar interest in Westlake.

Like Boyll’s previous Darkman novels, Gods is a hard-to-set-down, comic book-y, gory and over-the-top work with lots of cinematic vivid action, hyped up emotions and situations, and excellent writing and editing. This is a fun, worth-owning read (as are all the Darkman books thus far), if you’re looking for an unpretentious B-flick-style book that evolves the series and its distinctive and well-sketched characters between the splatter, violence, comeuppance and other explosions. 

Followed by Boyll’s Darkman: In the Face of Death.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen


(hb; 2011: first book in the Department Q series. Translated from the Danish by Lisa Hartford.)

From the inside flap

The Keeper of Lost Causes, the first installment of Jussi Adler-Olsen’s. . . Department Q series, features the deeply flawed chief detective Carl Mørck, who used to be a good homicide detective─one of Copenhagen’s best. Then a bullet almost took his life. Two of his colleagues weren’t so lucky, and Carl, who didn’t draw his weapon, blames himself.

“So a promotion is the last thing Carl expects.

“But it all becomes clear when he sees his new office in the basement. Carl’s been selected to run Department Q, a new special investigation division that turns out to be a department of one. With a stack of Copenhagen’s coldest cases to keep him company. Carl has been put out to pasture. So he’s as surprised as anyone when a case actually captures his interest. A politician vanished without a trace five years earlier. The world assumes she’s dead. His colleagues snicker about the time he’s wasting. But Carl may have the last laugh and redeem himself in the process.

“Because she isn’t dead. . . yet.”


Keeper is an entertaining, well-written, slick and hard-to-set-down police procedural/thriller with unique-for-the-genre elements (a Muslim janitor detective and villains who utilize a striking form of victimizing the woman they’ve kidnapped). The set-up’s easy to piece together─not a flaw, a feature: it’s the how and who that matters here. Great start to a series, this, one worth reading and owning.

Followed by The Absent One.


The resulting 2013 Danish film, Department Q: The Keeper of Lost Causes, was released in Denmark on October 3, 2013. Mikkel Nørgaard directed the film, from a screenplay by Nikolaj Arcel.

Nikolaj Lie Kaas played Carl Mørck. Fares Fares played Hafez el-Assad. Sonja Richter played Merete Lyngaard.

Søren Pilmark played Marcus Jacobsen. Morton Kirkskov played Lars Bjørn. Per Scheel Krüger played Anker. Troels Lyby played Hardy Henningsen.

Mikkel Boe Følsgaard played Uffe Lyngaard. Patricia Schumann played Søs Norup. Rasmus Botoft played Tage Baggesen.

Thursday, July 08, 2021

The Sandman: The Kindly Ones by Neil Gaiman and various artists


(1993-5, 1996 – graphic novel, collects issues 57-69 of the comic book The Sandman. Introduction” by Frank McConnell. Tenth book in the thirteen-book Sandman graphic novel series.)

From the back cover

“They have had many names: The Erinyes. The Eumenides. The Dirae. The Furies. Agents of vengeance, implacable and unstoppable., they do not rest until the crime they seek to punish is washed clean with blood. It is to them, The Kindly Ones, that Lyta Hall turns when her baby Daniel is taken from her, and it is the Dream of the Endless who becomes their target. But behind a mother’s grief and unyielding rage, there are darker forces at work, and what they set in motion will eventually demand a sacrifice greater than any the Dreaming has yet known.”


Overall review

Kindly is one of the most emotionally satisfying and intense storylines of the Sandman series, with recurring characters driving the sometimes-twisty events with their passions and their guilts─in the Dream King’s case, the murder of his son, Orpheus. Intertwined in the themes of guilt, grief, rage and forgiveness, there’s Gaiman’s usual skewering of sexism, homophobia, and other nasty human motives. Excellent read, one of the best Sandman offerings, this.

As in previous Sandman graphic novels, the artists, letterers and colorists who bring Gaiman’s transcend-the-genre writing to vivid, distinctive representation. Followed by The Sandman: The Wake.


Review, issue by issue

The Kindly Ones: 1” (#57): Two-thirds of the triumvirate Furies (Stheno, Euryale) have tea. Hippolyta Hall, living with her baby (Daniel) and her friend (Carla), checks out a dodgy job. Matthew, Morpheus’s raven, queries those around the Dream Lord about the fates of the ravens who came after him.


The Kindly Ones: 2” (#58): Hippolyta speaks with Stheno and Euryale. Clurican, the fairy Duke of the Yarrow and the Flay and brother of Nuala (Morpheus’s servant) visits the Dream King with a request.


The Kindly Ones: 3” (#59): Hob Gadling, mourning the death of his most recent wife─he is immortal, or close to it─is visited by Morpheus. Hippolyta gets news about her kidnapped son (Daniel) and forms a plan.


The Kindly Ones: 4” (#60): Remiel, one of the angelic guardians of Hell, visits Lucifer. Hippolyta seeks out Stheno and Euryale in real-time to achieve revenge for her kidnapped son’s fate. Carla visits her and Hippolyta’s downstairs neighbor, Rose Walker. Morpheus resurrects the Corinthian, this version slightly more obedient than the last one.


The Kindly Ones: 5” (#61): The two Furies (Stheno, Euryale) try to convince Hippolyta Hall to stay with them, become the new version of their long-dead sister (Medusa). Rose Walker visits her ex-neighbor, Zelda (minus her dead sister, Chantal). Morpheus charges Matthew the raven and the Corinthian with a task. Nuala returns to her family castle in Faerie. Detective Pinkerton, creepy cop, reveals his true identity to Carla.


The Kindly Ones: 6” (#62): Rose Walker flies to England to visit the nursing home where her grandmother, Unity Kinkaid, died. Rose interviews doctors and patients within the institution and is told sometimes creepy stories and sweet tales about her once-comatose relative. Larissa, the terrifying, blood-spattered witch girl with Coke bottle glasses, locates Hippolyta Hall


The Kindly Ones: 7” (#63): Larissa takes in Hippolyta Hall. Odin, a.k.a. “Grim, the Death-Blinder, the High One, the Gallows-God,” visits the Dream King, speaks of a grievance stemming from events in the last issue of The Sandman: Season of Mists. Destiny grants his younger sibling Delirium a wish. Morpehus visits Gilbert, a.k.a. Fiddler’s Green, who expresses concern about the Lord of Dreams. Hippolyta speaks anew with the two Furies about vengeance and its rules.


The Kindly Ones: 8” (#64): Rose Walker meets Desire. Delirium visits Morpheus. Matthew the raven and The Corinthian locate Carla’s burnt corpse─The Corinthian says he knows who killed her. Stheno, Euryale and Rose visit Morpheus, much to the dismay of one of the Dream Lord’s gatekeepers (Gryphon). Rose Walker hooks up with a nice guy with relevant secrets.


The Kindly Ones: 9” (#65): Rose Walker visits Fawney Rig, a manor was called Wych Manor─the waking-world site of Morpheus’s 70-year imprisonment. While there, Rose meets Desire, who claims to be related to her.

In Swartalfheim, the Corinthian and Matthew the raven confront Loki. The two Furies and Hipplyta kill another of Morpheus’s servants (Gilbert, a.k.a. Fiddler Green). Morpheus visits Larissa, the spooky woman with Coke bottle-top glasses. Matt the raven meets one of Noah’s seven raven (“Raven”). The Corinthian locates Hippolyta’s son, Daniel.


The Kindly Ones: 10” (#66): The Corinthian rescues Daniel, and while do so meets Robin Goodfellow (a.k.a. Puck). Odin retrieves Loki. Abel is visited by the two Furies (a.k.a. the Dirae) and Hipplyta. In Faerie, where Puck has recently returned, wild social changes take place. Nuala makes big life-changing decisions. Mervyn confronts Hippolyta and the Furies. Rose Walker returns to America.

The Kindly Ones: 11” (#67): The Corinthian and Daniel meet Cain and Goldie. Rose discovers that Zelda, her ex-neighbor, has passed. Cain, Goldie, The Corinthian and Daniel reach Morpheus’s castle, as does Morpheus and the Dirae.


The Kindly Ones: 12” (#68): Morpheus talks with Matthew the Raven while preparing for war with the Furies. Rose and her ex-neighbor, Hal, attend Zelda’s funeral.


The Kindly Ones: 13” (#69): Everything comes to a head, the conflict between the Dream Lord and the Dirae resolving in a multi-realm-changing fashion─strange rebirths of sorts.

Friday the 13th Part 3: 3-D by Michael Avallone


(1982; movie tie-in novel, based on a screenplay by Martin Kittrosser and Carol Watson)

From the back cover

“He lies in wait. Patiently. Quietly. Ready to strike. As darkness settles over the forest, the victims enter his lair. And one by one they die!”


The plot of the third Friday runs thusly: Chris Higgins, survivor of a failed attack by Jason a few years prior─an assault not shown in either of the two previous films─takes seven of her friends to her family cottage (Higgins Haven) near Crystal Lake. Jason, who is not specified by name until late in the book, takes umbrage at this and brutally dispatches those he views as invaders.

The blunt, giddily unhinged and no-nuance writing is appropriately choppy (given the rapid-style editing of the Friday movies), with head-hopping between characters (often within the same paragraph), the death scenes simile-laden, and the characters Friday-stock (though Avallone gives at least one of the characters a surname, Vera Sanchez). Much of Friday reads like A solid writer with a short deadline wrote a rough Ed Woodian slasher movie tie-in novel, with a focus on hyperbolic, darkly humorous dread and violence, e.g.:

The hand twisted the cleaver in a vicious, merciless circle. Harold’s chest exploded in flame and agony. 

“His paunchy body toppled backwards, crashing to the floor.

“The meat cleaver jutted from his chest like a tombstone.” (p. 30)

. . .or:

[Jason’s] mad eyes shone like fiery coals in the gloom of the porch.” (p. 152)

Is Friday worth reading? Yes, if the above passages entertain you. Not only that, the out-of-print Friday is an alternate version of the 1982 film on which it is based─it was written before canon was established within the franchise, and there are noticeable differences between the 1982 book and its source flick.

One of the big differences is Jason laughs, chuckles, howls and screams in the book, something he doesn’t do in the films. In the book, Loco is black, not white. The book also has a different ending, one that negates Jason’s chances of returning, unless he encounters Re-Animator‘s Dr. Herbert West (or somebody like him) or the Friday works that followed were prequels.

There appears to be a fun Halloween (1978) shout-out in the scene where Edna, husband-pecking future Jason victim, sees a figure moving between her windblown laundry on a clothesline. Debbie, one of Chris’s friends, reads a “shocker” by Sidney Stewart titled The Beast With Red Handsthis is a real-life, low-brow Robert Blochian thriller (judging by Amazon reviews), penned by Avallone under the aforementioned nom de plume, one of seventeen the prolific author used in his career.

If you’re entertained by low-brow movie tie-in thrillers that read like they were hastily written and edited or you’re a die-hard Friday fan, Avallone’s Friday might be a worthwhile investment.

Note: In 1988, another, presumably more canon-friendly book version was published, Simon Hawke’s Friday the 13th: Part 3. Like Avallone’s Friday, it’s out of print and pricy, and is said to have its own minor variations (e.g., giving Edna and Hank more of a backstory, as well as Jason).


The source/counterpart film was released stateside on August 13, 1982. Steve Miner directed it, from a screenplay by Martin Kittrosser and Carol Watson.

Richard Brooker played Jason Voorhees.

Dana Kimmell played Chris Higgins. Paul Kratka played Rick, Chris’s would-be boyfriend. Tracie Savage played Debbie. Jeffrey Rogers played Andy, Debbie’s boyfriend.

Catherine Parks played Vera Sanchez. Larry Zerner played Shelly, Vera’s “loser” prankster and Vera’s blind date─and previous owner of Jason’s now-iconic white mask. Rachel Howard played Chili. David Katims played Chuck.

Gloria Charles played Foxy. Nick Savage played Ali. Kevin O’Brien played Loco.

Cheri Maugans played Edna. Steve Susskind played Harold, Edna’s henpecked spouse. David Wiley played Abel, the Biblical doomsaying bum.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The Sandman: Worlds’ End by Neil Gaiman and various artists

(pb; 1994, 2012: graphic novel, collects issues 51-6 of the comic book The Sandman. Introduction” by Stephen King. Ninth book in the thirteen-book Sandman graphic novel series.)


Overall review:

Worlds’ End is a good, fun collection of characters (some of them previously seen in earlier Sandman stories) and variable tales they tell while they wait out a strange storm.

Again, the artists, letterers and colorists who bring Gaiman’s transcend-the-genre writing to vivid, distinctive representation. Worth owning, this. Followed by The Sandman: The Kindly Ones.


Review, issue by issue

Worlds’ End: Sequences at the Inn” (#51): After a car crash in a winter storm, two motorists (Brant Tucker, Charlene Mooney) find themselves at a pub with strange-looking mythological storytellers. Each issue that follows revolves around a tale told by one of the inn guests.


Cluracan’s Tale” (#52): The fairy, last seen in The Sandman: Season of Mists, speaks of what brought him here. In Cluracan’s narration, Queen Mab (of the fairy city Aurelia) sends him as envoy to a near-ruin human city to prevent a treacherous politician (Innocent XI, “Psychopomp of the Universal Aurelian Church”) from assuming more power and upsetting the balance between fairies and humans.

Hob’s Leviathan” (#53): A young sailor (Jim) recounts his sailing adventures with Hob Gadling (The Sandman: Dream Country), rough men and wild-sized sea creatures.


The Golden Boy” (#54): An older Asian man tells Brant a story about a fictional clock-fixing young man (Prez Rickard) who became a US President while being observed and possibly threatened by a creepy power broker of sorts (Boss Smiley).


Cerements” (#55): A Necropolitan student of death rituals (Petrefax) tells a story about how he attended a ritual where others told curious stories about hangmen, a woman of mystical power (Mistress Veltis) as well as his own experiences within a necropolis while studying under his pale-pigment master (Kaproth), who’s also listening to Petrefax speak. Two family members of the Endless make an appearance in this issue.


Worlds’ End” (#56):  The essence of the inn is revealed, as is the cause of the storm outside. Personal changes, pairings, and partings occur among some of guests.

The Pyx by John Buell


(hb; 1959)

From the inside cover

“This unusual novel is a study in evil. The surface events center around the death of Elizabeth Lucy, an attractive young woman whose body is found at the base of a penthouse apartment on a Montreal street. Elizabeth is part of a vice ring, described by Henderson of the homicide office as ‘a girl service which is no small time.’ The girls take their orders from Meg Latimer, and Meg takes hers from the top man, Mr. Keerson.

“Below the surface of the story run deeper sub-strata. Considering their profession, why are Elizabeth and hard-bitten Meg filled with a nameless, almost unreasonable fear at the ‘big assignment’ from Keerson? Why does it end in Elizabeth’s death? Is her fall from the penthouse suicide or murder? What is the meaning of the gold locket found on the street below? Why, when Keerson is finally cornered, does he shriek: ‘Stop calling me Keerson! It’s not my name at all’?”



Buell deftly balances characters’ stream-of-consciousness monologue and madness with warm humanity and hardboiled dialogue in this entertaining, tightly written police procedural that alternates between chapters titled “The Present” and “The Past,” culminating in a confrontation that brings the no-nonsense Henderson face-to-face with a bizarre foe.

Everything works in Pyx─while its set-up is simple, its complex characters, their emotions and actions, and its varying edit-styles make for an ultimately colorful and touching read. Worth owning, this.


The resulting film was released stateside in October 1973. Harvey Hart directed it, from Robert Schlitt’s screenplay.

Karen Black played Elizabeth Lucy. Christopher Plummer played Dt. Sgt. Jim Henderson. Donald Pilon played Dt. Sgt. Pierre Paquet. Louise Rinfret played Sandra. Terry Haig played Jimmy.

Yvette Brind’Amour played Meg Latimer. Lee Broker played Herbie Lefram. Robin Gammell played Worther. Jean-Louis Roux played Keerson.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The Sandman: Brief Lives by Neil Gaiman and various artists


(pb; 1992-3, 2011: graphic novel, collects issues 41-9 of the comic book The Sandman. Afterword” by Peter Straub. Eighth book in the thirteen-book Sandman graphic novel series.)

Overall review:

Lives is one of the more focused Sandman story arcs, making it one of the best in its in graphic novel oeuvre. This is excellent and memorable, one worth owning.

Again, the artists, letterers and colorists who bring Gaiman’s transcend-the-genre writing to vivid, distinctive representation are top-notch and genre-defining. Worth owning, this. Followed by The Sandman: Worlds' End.

Review, issue by issue

Caveat: possible─if you prefer not to know anything about what you’re about to read─minor spoilers for those who have not read these Sandman comics.

Brief Lives, Chapter 1” (#41): An old man (Andros), keeping with family tradition, helps guard the grave of Johanna Constantine (1760-1859, ancestor of John Constantine) and Orpheus’s living head.

Elsewhere, Delirium─sad, disturbed─looks for her eldest Endless brother.


Brief Lives, Chapter 2” (#42): Delirium visits Morpheus in the Dreaming, asks him to aid her in her quest to find their eldest brother.


Brief Lives, Chapter 3” (#43): Morpheus and Delirium make travel arrangements in the Waking World via Pharamond (a.k.a. Mr. Farrell), a Babylonian god-turned-businessman.

Etain, a young woman, barely escapes an early morning disaster in her apartment.


Brief Lives, Chapter 4” (#44): Delirium, Morpheus and Ruby Elisabeth DeLonge (their human driver, in Mr. Farrell’s employ) try to visit a lawyer (Bernard Capax) who─for unexplained reasons─might know the whereabouts of the Endless sibling’s brother.

Also: Morpheus thinks about a meeting with the sibling they seek, a long-ago memory where the Corinthian is shown.


Brief Lives, Chapter 5” (#45): Morpheus and Delirium, with Matthew’s help, locate the next person on Delirium’s list: a “dancing woman” (Ishtar, a.k.a. Astarte) and friend to fellow stripper, Tiffany.

Conversations, death and destruction ensue. Desire makes an important appearance in this issue.


Brief Lives, Chapter 6” (#46): Delirium and Morpheus part ways for a time. Morpheus visits Lady Bast, whom he has not seen in two years. Death pays Morpheus a visit.


Brief Lives, Chapter 7” (#47): Morpheus and Delirium resume their seeking of their eldest Endless brother, Destruction. Morpheus visits Orpheus. Delirium and Morpheus arrive at Destruction’s home, where he lives with a plain-spoken dog named Barnabus.


Brief Lives, Chapter 8” (#48): Morpheus and Delirium attend a dinner with Destruction and Barnabus, speak of why Destruction has absented himself from his family, the world and his ex-lover (Ishtar).


Brief Lives, Chapter 9” (#49): Morpheus and Delirium speak with their sister, Despair. Morpheus visits Orpheus again and, in doing so, fulfills a wish Desire made regarding Morpheus. Many of the characters seen in this nine-issue story arc resume their lives, some of them with a different attitudes than they previously held.