Blogging and tweeting will be light for the next week or so; Passover preparations and being out of town will do that. IN the meantime, check out my spotlight review of Jacques Chessex’s odd little gem THE VAMPIRE OF ROPRAZ at the Barnes & Noble Review and wish M.A. Orthofer a happy anniversary for 10 years of the indispensable Complete Review.

UPDATE, 48: My newest Dark Passages column is up a little early at the LA Times’ website, and I make plenty clear how much I absolutely fell for Hannah Berry’s graphic novel BRITTEN AND BRULIGHTLY. Here’s an excerpt:

It's not difficult to see why comics and crime suit each other well:
brutal death invites a visceral response, and murder in pictures only
amplifies that reaction further. Comics engage the reader with
fast-paced stories and upped stakes, which fits perfectly within the
boundaries of crime fiction's well-trod cadence of order from chaos.
And at their best, comics and graphic novels create rich emotional
landscapes through the artful mix of mood, color and line — the
approximate equivalent of a Chandlerian metaphor or a terse phrase á la
Hammett ripe for multiple interpretations.

Such hopes are rare for crime in prose but are even scarcer with

graphic novels, so when one comes along that hits the proverbial sweet

spot of standout storytelling and ruminative reflection, the reader is

advised to create a permanent space in his or her home library. That

recommendation suffices for Max Allan Collins’ genre-defining 1998

graphic novel “The Road to Perdition” (Pocket: 304 pp., $20.95 trade paper) and does so again for “Britten and Brülightly” (Metropolitan Books: 156 pp., $20 trade paper), 26-year-old Briton Hannah Berry’s audacious, wise-beyond-years debut.

Making a correlation between wisdom and age is deliberate, since

“Britten and Brülightly,” with its 1940s setting and classic private

detective setup, owes an obvious debt to Hammett, Chandler and the

films noir that followed. But any expectation of straight pastiche

dissipates with the very first panel, which depicts a dark-haired

fellow hovering on the border of youth and middle age, his head lying

against a neatly creased pillow with dark shadows circling his eyes,

bathed in a kohl mixture of green, blue and gray that recurs throughout

the narrative.

Read on for the rest, and happy Passover/Easter/long weekend to all!