Writer: Lewis Trondheim
Artwork: Stephane Oiry
Release Date: 25th April 2019
Maggy Garrisson has been out of work for two years, and things are getting desperate. So when she discovers that local deadbeat drunkard Anthony Wight has a secretary vacancy at his failing detective agency, she jumps at the opportunity. However, when Wight ends up in hospital as the result of taking on the wrong case, Maggy finds herself stepping in to tackle the investigation herself – and hopefully earning a little extra cash in the process.
French author Lewis Trondheim’s story is impressively grounded, gently unfolding a small-scale British crime drama as our leading lady finds herself drawn into a world of violent thugs, stacks of stolen money and crooked coppers. The supporting characters are all brilliantly realized, and the complex, believable relationship which gradually develops between Maggy and local thug Alex serves as my personal highlight of the book.
Admittedly, there’s nothing particularly ground-breaking at play here in terms of the story itself, but the strength of Maggy as a protagonist – not to mention the captivating supporting cast – keeps the pages turning from start to finish. The stakes and tempo gradually ramp up throughout the course of the three chapters, leading to a satisfying, impressively clever resolution where Maggy’s ingenuity manages to tie everything together nicely.
On the visual side of things, there’s an almost newspaper strip feel to the artwork, with a consistent twelve-panel grid style used throughout. Occasionally two or more panels are merged together to create a vista or landscape, but for the most part Stephane Oiry keeps up a steady, rapid rhythm throughout the course of the story.
There’s also an impressive level of detail and authenticity on display that helps to sell the English backdrop to the story, from familiar high street chains to seemingly innocuous details in places like Maggy’s flat or the local pub. It really feels like Oiry has done his research, and while using such a uniform page layout throughout the course of a 152 page graphic novel could potentially end up feeling monotonous, it actually flows rather well, with subtle artistic tricks being used to convey the shifting pace of the story.
While a lot of crime stories these days seem to feel the need to rely on spectacular twists and ludicrously high stakes, Maggy
Garrisson carves out an impressive little niche for itself with a strong female lead, a grounded story and a believable cast of characters. It actually feels ripe for a small screen adaptation, and in a world where television and movie execs are frequently turning their attention to the world of comics for their next big property, I think this has the potential to make for a gripping TV series. Either way, I hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of this charismatic, sharp-witted heroine.