cover image Murder Book: A Graphic Memoir of a True Crime Obsession

Murder Book: A Graphic Memoir of a True Crime Obsession

Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell. Andrews McMeel, $19.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-5248-6116-2

Blending fan-confessional and analysis of the true crime genre, New Yorker cartoonist Campbell’s funny, freewheeling graphic memoir debut takes on the “trend” of rampant body-chasing in film, TV, and podcasts—and why women, in particular, tend to tune in. She dates the phenomenon to 17th-century “penny pamphlets,” and notes that she herself is a fourth-generation fan of murder stories. Her mother Laurie appears often as an audience to her enthusiasms, along with bartenders, a kid on a plane, and anyone else who will listen to her theorizing. Campbell wonders about the origins of her obsession: Is it the satisfaction of seeing justice served? Or is it because she was born just a few months after the premiere of Law & Order? Her chatty storytelling and lightly frumpy character designs are accompanied by flow charts and pages bubbling over with tangents. She covers the Zodiac case, associated media history, and crime writer Ann Rule’s improbable connection to Ted Bundy, all of which is peppered with comedic bits from her own life. Some of the speculations feel superficial, but others land on point, such as a critique of race bias in true crime coverage that tends to brush past both victims and perpetrators of color. But it’s more celebration than interrogation, a joyfully chaotic swim with a community of crime aficionados. (Nov.)