First published back in August of 1989, ‘The Bank Street Book Of Mystery’ was published through the Bank Street College of Education to support childhood education. The book was one of a series of graphic novel collections, with the other titles in the series being:
  • The Bank Street Book Of Science Fiction (1989)
  • The Bank Street Book Of Fantasy (1989)
  • The Bank Street Book Of Creepy Tales (1989)
Each story contained in the collection was fully illustrated and included a one-page afterword at the end of each tale.

The Dangerous People – Fredric Brown – 16 Pages
For the past half-an-hour the town had been subjected to the high-pitched siren from the nearby hospital for insane criminals. It would appear that one of their lunatic prisoners had escaped. However, the sound of the siren was putting Mr Bellefontaine on edge. The thought of an insane criminal at large within the vicinity brought him out in a cold sweat. He’d be glad when the train finally pulled up and he could be on his way back to Milwaukee. As such, Bellefontaine’s nerves were pretty much at breaking point when he discovered he wasn’t alone at the station. A tall man was also waiting for the train. However, there was something that wasn’t quite right about the man. Possibly it was down to his ill-fitting clothes and the man’s bloodshot eyes. Whatever the reason, the man had put Mr Bellefontaine even more on edge…

Fredric Brown is well known for his comic tales involving people in a mad universe. Here we see a similar injection of humour brought into the story, very much a “who is it?” plot – whereby the reader is kept guessing until the very end. It’s an entertaining short read, with a couple of crafty twists which you may, or may not, see coming. All in all, a good opening story to the mystery collection, firmly establishing the “can you guess the ending” vibe whilst delivering a fun and witty narrative.

The story was first published under the title ‘No Sanctuary’ in the March 1945 issue of Dime Mystery Magazine. This comic adaptation was adapted and illustrated by Russ Steffens.

The Name On My Grave – Ed Gorman – 15 Pages
In 1891, it was quite common for railroad passengers to be delayed during their journeys. Such an occurrence happened with the train to Kansas when the crew found the track ahead had been washed out. The train would need to stop in Mayfair for a while and wait whilst they fixed the line. However, Robert Banyon was instantly uneasy at the mention of Mayfair. It had been many years since he’d last set foot in the town. Surely no one there would still remember him. After all, he was a totally different man now. A father and a lawyer. The past was the past. Surely no one would go digging into it…disturbing the graves of times which are better left forgotten?...

Ed Gorman is well-known for his versatility as a writer. Over his extensive career until his death in 2016, Gorman had stories published in almost every genre going. However, he was probably best known for his work in horror, mystery, crime and westerns. Here we have a western which also brings in an element of mystery. Nothing too spectacular – more a sort of eventual unveiling of the truth. No big twists, instead just a gradual revelation and then a final confirmation signing off the story. Nonetheless, it’s an entertaining read that feels truly embedded within the wild western setting it’s penned within.

The comic was written by Ed Gorman and illustrated by Robin Ator.

The Little Things – Isaac Asimov – 12 Pages
Mrs Hester Gold had popped to the apartment above her to visit her upstairs neighbour, Mrs Clara Bernstein. They’d been chatting away over a cuppa, when Mrs Bernstein mentioned the annoying dripping noise coming from the apartment that’s immediately above hers. She’d tried speaking with Mrs McClaren from upstairs about the noise, but she’d not been seen for days. She was probably off somewhere with one of her fancy men. Mrs Bernstein was very aware of the woman’s post-divorce antics. Nevertheless, the sound of the constant dripping was infuriating. Mrs Bernstein would have to do something about it. Luckily, as it turns out, her downstairs neighbour had a key to Mrs McClaren’s apartment. Hopefully now she could finally get to the root of that incessant dripping noise…

Isaac Asimov is probably best known for his science-fiction work. Although the author did pen a large volume of mystery stories as well. Here we have one such story of mystery. It focuses predominantly on the two nosy neighbours gossiping and laying down the various pieces to the puzzle, setting the story up for the big revelation at the end. It’s a quirky black comedy piece, with a dark conclusion that will have you chuckling at the absurdity of it all. Although what’s possibly the most amusing is the terribly outdated views of Mrs Bernstein in particular. Her assumption of Mrs McClaren’s rampant promiscuity, mostly because she’s divorced is wonderfully comical. Although the final reveal at the end does make you wonder if these views are maybe shared with the author himself. Either way, it’s a fun and entertaining short read.

The story was first published within issue 378 (May 1975) of ‘Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine’, and then later reprinted within ‘Miniature Mysteries’ (1981) and again within ‘The Best Mysteries Of Isaac Asimov’ (1986). This comic adaptation was adapted and illustrated by Rick Geary.

Eats – Richard Laymon – 20 Pages
Private investigator, Duke Scanlon, knew he was in for a good fee the minute Mable Wingate walked into his office. Whether it was the way she dressed, her perfect hair, the copious jewellery she wore, or the poodle she was carrying – Mable Wingate was quite obviously from a position of wealth. She informed Scanlon that her late husband had recently died quite unexpectedly, and she was convinced he’d been poisoned by either one of her offspring, or one of her numerous servants. With her beloved Oscar having passed away, they each stood to inherit a large sum upon her death. And so, Mable was convinced poisoning was their plan for her. As such, whilst the private eye undertook his investigation into the matter at her stately mansion, she would also require him to sample her food during every meal. Despite Mable’s eccentricities, it was a job he couldn’t turn down. Not only was the pay double his normal rate, but he was also convinced the supposed poisoning was all in her head. This one should be an easy one to solve…

I’ll be honest, the comic adaptation of this Laymon short story was the reason I picked up a copy of this book. I’d already read the original short story within Laymon’s ‘Fiends’ (1997) collection. However, this comic adaptation intrigued me. Anyway, this illustrated version follows the original tale incredibly closely, not deviating from the original in any hugely noticeable way (as far as I can recall at least). It’s bursting full of quick-fire black comedy, with the cocky private eye – Duke Scanlon – delivering an endless stream of backhanded remarks that provide a witty backdrop to the developing story. There’s as solid overarching mystery behind the short tale, insomuch as we don’t know if there really is a murderer amongst them, and if there is, who it is. The focus is invariably on the ‘if’ rather than the ‘who’. That is up until the wonderfully dark finale which will have you chuckling away at the ludicrousness of it all. Brilliant stuff and for Laymon fans, it’s well worth adding to your collection.

The story was first published within the July 1985 issue of ‘Mike Shayne’s Mystery Magazine’ and then later reprinted within the ‘Fiends’ (1997) collection. This comic adaptation was adapted by Mark Borax and illustrated by Lee Moyer.

Who? – Michael Collins – 18 Pages
When Mrs Connor came into the private investigator’s office, Dan Fortune knew he was heading into trouble. The woman told Fortune that her eighteen-year-old son had recently died of a suspected heart attack, however she wasn’t convinced. Her son had been fit and well. In fact, he’d just passed the physical for joining the Air Force. Something didn’t add up and if anyone was going to get to the bottom of the mystery, it was Dan Fortune…

Michael Collins is a well-known and highly revered mystery writer (although he is often known by one of his many pseudonyms). Collins wrote a series of novels using his recurring character, the one-armed Private Eye – Dan Fortune – who would invariably solve all sorts of tricky mysteries. What we have here is a classic example of his work, a textbook whodunnit with a scattering of clues which seem oddly out of place, and with no link between them. The story is told well through this illustrated version, with us taken each step of the way until the conclusion. It’s a very linear storyline delivering a brick-by-brick construction to the whole offering. However, it works, and keeps you guessing until the very end. Not a bad little story at all.

The story was first published within the August 1972 issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. This comic adaptation was adapted by Fred Schiller and illustrated by Delfin Barral.

The Stolen Cigar-Case – Bret Harte – 18 Pages
For many years, Dr. John Whats-On had been the faithful assistant to the brilliant detective, Hemlock Jones. However, their partnership in solving mysteries came to an abrupt end when Jones was faced with the mystery of his stolen cigar-case. It was a prised possession which had been gifted to him by the Turkish Ambassador. However, despite the other mysteries he had on his plate to solve, Jones decided to prioritise this crime, for it would require all of his powers of reasoning and detection skills to bring the guilty person to justice. A task which the brilliant Hemlock Jones had commenced the minute Whats-On arrived…

Written as a comic spoof in the style of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, this short mystery is very much geared towards elaborate and silly comedy than it is a mystery. Even the artwork plays upon the comical style, with silly Beano-style additions thrown into the artwork, such as with a shark fin circling a small puddle and the like. From the outset its fairly obvious where the story is leading and who’s the supposedly guilty party. Even the twist ending is as predictable as the finger pointing. But it’s really the comical linking of clues and outlandish powers of detection which are the whole point of the story. It’s wacky and fun and for a short read, highly entertaining.

The story was first published within ‘Pearson's Magazine: Volume X – No. 60’ (1900). This comic adaptation was adapted and illustrated by Bob Versandi.

The Disappearing Man – Isaac Asimov – 14 Pages
The Detective’s son just happened to be walking down the road when the jewellery thief raced past him and into the nearby alleyway. It was a narrow alley between two buildings that led to a single door at its end. Within seconds the building was surrounded by the police. There was nowhere for the thief to go. Trapped in the building with no escape. Yet somehow, when the officers enter the building, they find it empty. No thief hiding away anywhere inside. Nothing…

Here we have Asimov’s second story adaptation within the collection. It’s a classic getaway setup that’s been used a million times in various thrillers, cop shows, and the like. From reading the above synopsis, you’ve probably already predicted how this ‘disappearing act’ has been achieved. What works well with this short comic version, however, is how it’s told from the inquisitive perspective of this nameless young lad. Not a bad story, although as I mentioned, it’s predictable as hell.

The story was first published within the June 1978 issue of ‘Boys’ Life Magazine’. This comic adaptation was adapted and illustrated by Rick Geary.

The Little Old Lady From Cricket Creek – Len Gray – 14 Pages
Mr Cummings and Mr Bowden jointly ran the personnel department for the Great Riveroaks Insurance Company. It meant they were responsible for hiring and firing people. Which is why they were the first to meet with Mabel Jumpstone who came all the way from Cricket Creek. She was a fifty-five-year-old who’d applied for the insurance company’s position of File Clerk. And as the pair would soon find out, Mabel would be the most capable typist and overall file clerk the company had ever had. In fact, Mabel Jumpstone appeared to be the perfect employee. That is, until the company was robbed…

Len Gray was the pen name for the mystery author Albert B. Ralston. However, here we have not so much a mystery, but rather a crime thriller – one which deals with good old deception. It’s a classic case of being fooled by the most cunning of con artists. Of course, here we have a sweet old lady (well if fifty-five is classed as old?!) who can work miracles with a typewriter, but who’s actually a con artist. That’s not however the twist in the story… that would be far too predictable! The twist is waiting at the end of the short tale, and to be fair, I didn’t see it coming at all. A fun read with a surprise ending.

The story was first published within the August 1969 issue of ‘Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine’. This comic adaptation was adapted by Fred Schiller and illustrated by Rurick Tyler.

The Oblong Box – Edgar Allan Poe – 16 Pages
Our narrator had arranged to travel from his home in South Carolina to New York city. For the trip he’d booked passage on the good ship ‘Independence’ – a three-masted schooner. The day before leaving, he found out his dear friend and fine artist, Mr Cornelius Wyatt, would also be taking the ship, along with his new bride and two sisters. Oddly though, the newlyweds seemed to have booked separate rooms on the ship. And that wasn’t the only unusual observation he made about his friend. On the day of setting sail, he sees them coming onboard, with them a large 6ft oblong box. Furthermore, when meeting with Wyatt’s new wife, he finds her not at all like she was described to him. There was certainly something very strange about the whole thing…

The short story is a relatively well-known one by Poe. What we have here however, is the story condensed down into a short, illustrated adaptation. This has been done exceptionally well, with much of the mystery and mounting unease preserved very well in the piece. In fact, even with the story being much more dialogue driven in this version than that of the original, it still manages to capture those worries and constant ponderings present in the original. A good, illustrated version of what I personally would otherwise call a relatively mediocre story.

The story was first published within the 28th August 1844 issue of ‘The Dollar Newspaper’ and has been subsequently reprinted many times in numerous different titles and collections. This comic adaptation was adapted and illustrated by John Pierard.

The Curse Of The Egyptian Tomb – Nancy Roberts – 10 Pages
Anne Withers was going to miss her one true love – Captain Christopher Corbitt – whilst he was away on his voyage. Despite her father’s disapproval, the couple planned to marry upon the Captain’s return. However, when he eventually returns, he brings back more than he bargained for. Whilst in Egypt, he’d purchased a bracelet from a one-eyed Arab merchant who said it had come from the tombs of an Egyptian Princess. However, unbeknown to Corbitt, the bracelet isn’t quite as it seems…

Here we have a super-short offering that’s set sometime around the turn of the 19th century. It’s got a sort of ‘Pride And Prejudice’ (1813) vibe to it, which is handled well by the illustrator. Ultimately the story is all about the bracelet and whether it truly is cursed or not. Of course, we don’t find this out until the very last pages, which sadly feel somewhat rushed, with sprinklings of further ghostly hauntings dropped in almost as an afterthought. A fun read, nonetheless.

The comic was adapted and illustrated by Frederic Lere.

The Good Times Always End – David Morrell – 14 Pages
The council were planning to build a new highway right over where Mrs Wade’s farm stood. She’d lived there all her life, raised six children there, and her late husband had died there. That farm was a piece of her. There was no way she would give it up without a fight. Not for no amount of money. And a fight it would surely take…

Here we have an entertaining short by author David Morrell, the man behind the creation of Rambo. It’s really not so much a mystery as it is a tongue-in-cheek comedy piece, with a sort of ‘Home Alone’ (1990) vibe going on. The plot is one which has been a sad reality for some. The council in essence trying to throw someone off their own property so that a new road can be built. It’s a situation that appears in all sorts of stories, even the likes of ‘The League Of Gentleman’ (1999 – 2002). However, Mrs Wade’s fight to remain in the property makes for a reasonably fun story which then ends in a very twee way.

The story was first published within the June 1982 issue of ‘Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine’. This comic adaptation was adapted by Fred Schiller and illustrated by Sterling Brown.

The Diamond of Kali – O. Henry – 16 Pages
At New York’s forgotten newspaper – the Brooklyn Bugle – the story about The Kali Diamond wasn’t going down well with the newspaper’s chief editor. The story was quite simply too far-fetched to be plausible. Thinking it’s probably a dead-end story, it’s offered to one of the junior journalists who jumps at the chance. The first port of call was to visit the stately mansion of General Marcellus B. Ludlow – the billionaire who was now in possession of the diamond. A man who despite having the very best security money can offer, still feared for his life. Because he knew a secret Kali worshipping cult named ‘The Backward Thugs’ were now after him and the diamond. And the General also knew it was only a matter of time before they caught up with him…

Ending this collection off we have an elaborate and wildly over-the-top story about a secretive cult of murderers who are after this billionaire General. Once the plot has been laid down by General Ludlow, the short tale quickly ramps up the pace, delivering a ludicrous finale that feels like a blueprint for the ending of ‘Hot Fuzz’ (2007). Despite its age, the whole story feels more akin to a 1960s pulp. Good fun to read, full of action, along with a ludicrous and decidedly sketchy ending.

The story was first published within the author’s ‘Sixes And Sevens’ (1911) collection of short stories. This comic adaptation was adapted and illustrated by Bob Versandi.

The graphic novel collection runs for a total of 189 pages.

© DLS Reviews


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