GRAPHIC NOVELS

Ghostwriter

Fantagraphics. Aug. 2020. 88p. ISBN 9781683963189. $19.99. Rated: Teen+. historical fiction
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An enigmatic woman named Laia spends the summer of 1943 anticipating the birth of her firstborn child. She writes for “Doctor Elena Is In,” an award-winning radio show that offers desperate women advice on how to keep their husbands happy. She tells her neighbors that her husband is away managing his family estate…but then why is she paying a detective to search for him? Why does his family refuse to answer the detective’s questions? Also, there’s a serial killer on the loose; by the way, she’s only pretending to be pregnant. As some questions are answered and others are revealed to be even more puzzling, Spanish cartoonist Pulido (Sordo) keeps Laia’s motivations, and where readers’ sympathies should lie, unclear. A title card at the end of the first chapter describes the story as a farce, but it’s equally noir—and by the end, a particularly unsettling example of the genre.
VERDICT Pulido packs enough twists and turns to fill a door-stopping epic into 18 brilliantly concise chapters in this slim volume, which won Spain’s 2017 National Comic Book Award.

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