3 out of 5
While this is essentially the same formula as volume 1 – a former butler of ‘The Green Manor Club’ relates tales of murder tangential, or directly related to, his former employer – a few things work in its favor, and make it a slightly more fun read than its lead in collection. Firstly: assuming you’ve read the first book, you’re used to the structure. There’s no significant linking between the stories except for the club; there are no secret details to pay attention to. These are just stories of death and killings, sometimes comical, sometimes a bit more ghastly, but always inventive – veering off of predictable Tales from the Crypt type endings. Following up on that is that there’s no need to really push on the framing device of the butler as something more cryptic than it is; Vehlmann uses it, successfully, as an excuse to tell the stories, and then to draw a conclusion to things, when the doctor listening / reading such stories has had enough of them. Lastly, while I loved Bodart’s art before, he makes some tweaks here to how he draws characters – slightly less cartoonish, and more in line with the sketchy, loose backgrounds. It makes the art more flexible, which is better for the tone.
That said, the stop-and-start nature of things makes it rather disposable; good to read a tale or two at a time, but, somewhat by design, I suppose, not something that grips you or provides any hooks of a deeper story. With expectations set to that, though, it’s a fun read.
Note: the English ‘Cinebook’ printing of this is actually volumes 2 and 3 of the French originals combined.