Noir is the name of the game in Britten and Brülightly, Hannah Berry's illustrated detective story ripe with mystery and engrossing characters.

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This spellbinding graphic novel is a page-turner that pays artistic homage to the noir aesthetic of yesteryear. The old-fashioned, perpetually rain-soaked city in which the tale is set is painted in dark, muted hues, a visual style that is evocative of the story’s gloomy narrative themes: love affairs, blackmail, and murder.

Fernández Britten, a private investigator, regrets his career choice. Since his inquiries into love affairs often result in botched marriages and ruined lives, he has made a name for himself in his field: the Heartbreaker. After some time in solitude, Britten takes on a case that he hopes will uncover the truth behind the seemingly staged suicide of a publishing heiress’ fiancé. In the course of his investigation, Britten’s sullen inner monologue is voiced through conversations with his snarky partner and only companion, a teabag named Brülightly he keeps in his breast pocket.

Although Britten is far from the next Sherlock Holmes, he is a much more complicated character than conventional hard-boiled detectives. The author, Hannah Berry, paints a complex psychological portrait of a dejected man whose line of business has him constantly surrounded by heartbreak and death. Likewise, Berry’s whodunit plotline is full of poetic twists that are as superiorly crafted as the characters within it. The plot quickly thickens, yet this graphic novel should not be hurriedly thumbed through. Like a cup of warm English tea on a rainy day, this novel is best if you give it time to brew and take it in slowly.

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