Dark Entries book review

Ian Rankin picks up the Constantine supernatural sleuth in an excellent start to a new series..

Writer: Ian RankinArt: Werther Dell’EderaPublisher: Titan Books (hardback, £14.99)

So where is Inspector Rebus when you need him? But occult is not his forte. When a reality TV show has chosen contestants to endure a ‘Haunted Mansion’, there’s only one person who can be called up to investigate more demonic activities: John Constantine. Even better is to recruit Ian Rankin, the best-selling writer of the Rebus stories, to write Dark Entries. The laconic, chain-smoking Hellblazer and award-winning crime writer together form a formidable team.

Constantine has un unexpected visit from a stranger asking him to investigate the real supernatural events that are going on at a reality TV show, events that are not seemingly controlled by the programme-makers. Having agreed to enter the house, Constantine questions each of the contestants about their inexplicable visions: a burning man, a needle- embedded floor, a speeding car. His presence increases the viewing figures just as he encounters his own ghostly figure.

However, the more he learns about each of the housemates, the closer he gets to discovering the real purpose of the show and, more importantly, revealing who the programme’s actual producer is…

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Dark Entries marks the launch of a new range of standalone crime and mystery graphic novels, featuring authors of the calibre of Rankin and illustrated by international artists, in this case top Italian illustrator , Werther Dell’edera (best know for the Loveless series). No doubt, if Mickey Spillane or Dashiel Hammet were still around, they could be contributing their own gritty urban tales to the series.

Considering that this is Rankin’s first foray into writing graphic novels, he weaves a masterly tale that combines both satire on popular TV shows and the classic haunted-house scenario. However, once the demonic undercurrents break through, we’re in familiar Hellblazer territory, where past deeds come back seeking revenge.

Rankin seems to have grasped Constantine’s character with eerie confidence. Dell’Edera brings shadowy vision to the novel , his unfussy black-and-white illustrations offering pared-down detail for a more dynamic noir effect.

This is a confident launch to the Graphic Mystery series, in a uniquely-designed and bound volume. More importantly, it’s evidence that Ian Rankin has deftly made the transition from novel to graphic novels. It would be intriguing to see his skills allowed to devise more supernatural situations for Constantine to unravel. A match made in heaven…or should that be hell?

Dark Entries will be published on 2nd October 2009

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4 out of 5