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A Sickness in the Family

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About the Author

Denise Mina is the author of Deception, the Garnethill trilogy, and Still Midnight. She has worked in healthcare and taught criminology and criminal law. She lives in Scotland. Antonio Fuso is an Italian left-handed comic book artist unconditionally acclaimed by his family, his girlfriend and some of his friends... his cat hates him.


Scottish crime novelist Mina, previously known in comics for a run on Hellblazer, provides a creepy, taut tale of family greed that leads to murder. At first the Ushers' squabbles over money, home renovations, and who will take care of grandma are the stuff of ordinary dysfunction. But after family members start dying under suspicious circumstances, it becomes clear there is evil at work. The Ushers' adopted son, Sam, tries to solve the mystery, uncovering unsavory family secrets and tales of witchcraft in the process. The sharp angles and high contrast of Italian artist Fuse's b&w illustrations create an appropriately dark atmosphere and fit well with the plot's abrupt turns. Readers will likely find their alliances shifting quickly from character to character all the way to the satisfying wrap up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Gr 10 Up-With strong echoes of Poe's classic "The Fall of the House of Usher," Mina has created a suspenseful tale of a haunted house, a dysfunctional family, and, ultimately, horror. Seen through the eyes of an adopted son, the story opens with adult Sam looking back on the life of this bizarre family consisting of his father, whose renovation project includes removing the stairwell, leaving a gaping hole in the hall. Ted Usher faces his wife Biddy's ongoing affair with their marriage therapist. The three children include Amy, who resents her father's refusal to assist her financially in starting her career; William, whose heroin addiction is revealed to the family; and Sam, obedient and caring but who is ignored and resented by all. Adding to the pressure, Biddy's aging mother, Martha, has come to live with them. Tensions increase as the house begins to fall apart during reconstruction, while simultaneously, the family unravels. Unexplained deaths, which may or may not be accidental; arguments; and dark secrets culminate in the horrific revelation of Martha's evil and twisted plot to bring the family down at the story's end. "This place" scrawled on the walls of the house will remind readers of Poe's phrase "the haunted palace." Stark black-and-white drawings further intensify the mood. This very dark tale is definitely for adults. Many of the situations and relationships as well as the excessive use of offensive language make it suitable for mature readers.-Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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