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Perhaps you saw Leonardo DiCaprio in Shutter Island this weekend, and you’re wanting more. Or maybe you’ve been unable to watch a DiCaprio movie since Titanic, but you’re still interested in the noir story. We’re here to help.French cartoonist Christian De Metter adapted Shutter Island (TOKYOPop, $21.99) into a graphic novel from Dennis Lehane‘s original novel in 2008, and it’s now appearing in English.
Although the book is blurbed as being ‘a major motion picture from Paramount Pictures,’ the characters don’t look like movie stars. De Metter painted with a muted sepia palette for the majority of the book. Only dreams are in color. The story opens in 1954 with two US Marshals visiting an island mental hospital to help search for a missing patient. The elements of a classic locked-room mystery accumulate quickly—how could this woman have escaped from her locked ward, get past an orderly, and stay hidden on an island? The two marshals don’t get much help from the staff, especially head psychiatrist Dr. Crawley, who has a mysterious past with the OSS, the CIA’s predecessor. De Metter unwinds the story of past murders, current lies, complicated codes, and mysterious disappearances skillfully and builds suspense throughout the book. After surviving a hurricane by hiding in a crypt, the marshalls are told the missing woman has returned. Marshal Teddy Daniels, who had lost his wife and children in a fire set by an inmate at the sanitarium, does not believe the stories he’s been told. The marshals eventually reach the sectioned-off Ward C where violent prisoners, including his wife’s killer, are kept—and the mystery beings to unfold.
De Metter’s coloring in particular recalls classic black and white movies that appear to have influenced Lehane’s original story—particularly Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall’s Key Largo (1942), which takes place in a hurricane while a gangster holds them hostage on an island, and And Then There Were None (1945), wherein Agatha Christie has her characters killed off incrementally by an unseen murderer (while also stuck on an island). If the surprise ending feels a bit forced, a bit unlikely, a reader should nonetheless be able to spend an enjoyable half hour with the story and come away with something to think about.