With the summer holidays just around the corner Olly MacNamee finds a forgotten gem on his reviews pile – Closely by Grayham Puttock. A claustrophobic crime thriller which reminds him of a classic bit of 70s Brit horror movie and stars a leading man with a familiar actorly face!

Publisher: Grayham Puttock
Writer: Grayham Puttock
Artist: Grayham Puttock
Price: £15 from the Closely Graphic Novel Shop

I have to admit, this book has slipped down the pile of reviews I had intended to write a few months ago, but finally it made its way back to the top of the pile and into my hands where I was immediately won over by the attention to realism Grayham Puttock puts into every panel. Indeed, it is to Puttock’s credit that I immediately recognised the strong resemblance his main character, Detective Closely, to the actor Kevin Eldon, whose rubbery face offers the fictional detective a gamut of emotions throughout this book and creates a believable conduit through which we witness events unfolding. This is a book that makes use of many a close up and mid-shot to create a story that has more than a slight feel of The Wicker Man about it.

Closely, it would seem, has been sent out into the middle of nowhere to investigate a murder, all the while coming into contact with some of the locals, who ‘run to a different rhythm’. What is strange about this case, as it dawned on me reading through this graphic novel, was the lack of a body. This, and the bizarre array of local colourful characters, along with the liberal use of close ups, only added to the sense of impending dread that I couldn’t shake off; that, and some of the local practices. At one point, the local doctor prescribed the eating of a monstrously large insect to ward off his night terrors. Hardly the best NHS advice, now is it?

Like The Wicker Man’s Sergeant Neil Howie,Closely is an outsider and treated as such by many. All the while he seems to be suffering from some kind of trauma himself, but one that is just out of our reach to comprehend; a trauma that seems to be slowly forming across the length of this chilling, claustrophobic tale.

Overall, I was suitably impressed with this story. With The Wicker Man comparison firmly rooted in my mind, I was surprised by the change in direction the story takes when it suddenly turns to full colour. In using the actor Kevin Eldon as his muse, all hang-dogged face and brow beaten, we have a suitable anchor for this psychological horror story. A wise choice and a satisfying read too.