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Alan Moore's The Courtyard

Posted: Wednesday, February 19, 2003
By: Page45



Creators: Alan Moore, Antony Johnston & Jacen Burrows.
Publisher: Avatar

First off, let me just say that I really don't appreciate publishers misleading retailers or the public with deliberate omissions to fool you into believing that what you're buying is pure Alan Moore. There wasn't a word that I saw in PREVIEWS which indicated that Antony Johnston was adapting this work from Moore's own material, nor, conveniently, is there any mention of this on the cover. Just "Alan Moore's The Courtyard" (which is clumsy as hell). And yes, there's a bloody big difference between Moore orchestrating the whole - the man is infamous for handing artists 7,000 word dissertations on a single panel - and someone else... doing whatever Antony did (we'll find out next month, if we're lucky).

On the other hand, it is Mr. Johnston (THREE DAYS IN EUROPE), and whatever it is he did do, he did it very well, for this is a riveting read on abstract patterning as a means of solving a crime. The crime in this instance is the discovery of fifteen identical mutilations. Thirteen of these murders have been solved, the perpetrators in each case confessing. Bizarrely, though, none of the killers - a bright fifteen-year-old with a substantial classical music collection, a twenty-year-old bookstore clerk with a penchant for Poe, and a wino on drugs - have any apparent connection to each other, and that still leaves two deaths unaccounted for.

By employing the Anomaly Theory to winnow out the 'most troublesome' details in each case - obscure fragments which don't fit the profiles and which are consequently overlooked - and find new connections therein, one detective thinks he has a lead, and heads undercover to a putrid hole of an apartment. From there he wanders down to hang out in Club Zothique, "an amphetaminefield of concussive music and light, full of underage heat," and waits for something to happen, for the fragments to fall into place. They do, but things take an unexpected turn when he receives a report from a previous 1925 investigation into child smuggling centred on the old church which now hosts Club Zothique, and a photograph of J. Edgar Hoover from a F.B.I. operation a couple of years later, involving interbreeding in Massachusetts. Hoover's there, clear as day. But what the hell is that, chained under the blanket?

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