Book Reviews

Grandville: Bete Noire – Bryan Talbot – Book Review


The Badger is back! This is the third instalment of the series concerning the badger detective. This tale begins with LeBrock and Ratzi being called to Paris to investigate a murder that has the local detectives stumped. A man has been stabbed to death in a locked room, with the police outside. There is no signs of forced entry or escape, it’s like the murderer simply disappeared. It is a time of much change in France as Emperor Napolean XII has recently died and the country is being run by a revolutionary council.

One of the most fascinating things about this piece is that Talbot has set about creating a world and not simply a story. This is a complex environment, with a political life and ongoing battles for rights of the various groups. Humans do exist in this world, but are treated as second class citizens, to their animal superiors. They are called ‘dough-faces’ by the animal class, and work in a variety of menial jobs, as they are thought to have limited intelligence. Their battle to be treated as equals rumbles on while the detective carries out his work.

The political scene is also chaotic, the Emperor Napolean have recently died, France is in a state of flux, and the wealthier class are worried that their position may be diminished by the new elected government. England has also been recently released from French rule.


There are also many elements of the steampunk ethos which fascinate, as another view on how technology could have evolved. It allows Talbot to look at transport, communication and a variety of other systems, to see different directions technology could have gone. This quite often means that small elements off to the side of the panels are fascinating pieces of this other fantasy world.

This is the work of writer/ artist Bryan Talbot, the stalwart of 2000AD, who has also worked on such series as Sandman and Dotter of her Father’s Eyes, which we reviewed here. It is essentially a detective story, with LeBrock carrying many of the characteristics of the known super sleuths such as Sherlock Holmes. It is a complex and multi layered world that proved the most fascinating element of this story, and turns what could have been a formulaic detective story into something far beyond.

Find out more about Bryan Talbot here.

Grandville: Bete Noire by Bryan Talbot is published by Random House

Grandville Bette Noire

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