Geary’s New Murder Series Starts With Chester & Grace

Chester & Grace: The Adirondack Murder

As regular readers know, I’m a huge fan of Rick Geary’s work. His precision linework and fascination with famous murders and infamous people make for compelling reading.

There have been nine stories told in his series A Treasury of Victorian Murder, which can be found in two volumes, Compendium 1 (including classics Jack the Ripper and H.H. Holmes) and Compendium 2 (with Lizzie Borden, Lincoln’s assassination, and three other tales).

Then he moved a bit forward in time with seven books in the A Treasury of XXth Century Murder series. There’s a Compendium with three of them — including the most famous, the Lindbergh kidnapping — as well as a notorious Hollywood case, a reverend’s affair, Sacco and Vanzetti, and most recently, the Black Dahlia.

Chester & Grace: The Adirondack Murder

His newest series, with one out so far, differs from the previous in several significant ways. Chester & Grace: The Adirondack Murder is the first in the Little Murder Library, and it’s about the case that served as inspiration for Theodore Dreiser’s novel An American Tragedy. Differences include:

  • There isn’t a hardcover edition; it was published first in paperback.
  • But it’s in color, lovely faded tones that look like watercolor. It’s particularly gorgeous given the mountain lake setting.
  • The format is a little closer to illustrated text than pure comic, with one or two substantial illustrations per page and text at the top and bottom.
  • This isn’t an unsolved murder. Someone was convicted and executed for Grace’s death.
  • The book was launched through Kickstarter and is now available through the artist’s online store.

I wasn’t previously familiar with the case, but the outline is immediately familiar. (I knew about a later version of the story, the 1951 movie A Place in the Sun.) Chester and Grace were involved, and when she became pregnant, she pressed for marriage. (What other options were there in 1906?) He wanted another way out.

Geary’s storytelling is solid, giving us the facts of Grace’s death, then flashing back to tell us more about Chester and Grace’s backgrounds and how they came together, then the final conclusion. It’s a shame that this volume isn’t more easily available, since the improvements in format, particularly the color, makes this one of his very best reads.

Geary is currently Kickstarting a second book in the Little Murder Library series. The Wallace Mystery has a couple of weeks to go at this writing. It returns to the unsolved mystery theme, telling the story of the 1931 murder of the wife of a Liverpool insurance agent.

[Note that with all these series, the one off is the previously crowdfunded Elwell Enigma. If you like these, you’ll like that one as well.]

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