Villains we love to hate

I’m not a monster – I’m just ahead of the curve.

-The Joker

That uncomfortable sensation when you find yourself enjoying everything your fictional villain does. Well maybe not everything.  Fiction abounds with a wealth of antiheroes, all the way back to Beowulf where you might find yourself sympathising with a monster. A recent treatment of that story in The mere wife does provoke thoughts of who we think of as monstrous. Obsession is not always an undoing, Moriarty’s mind games elevate both Sherlock Holmes and the readers’ experience. The glamour of the high life, with it’s ego stroking attributes is the aim for many, but what if no obstacle, moral or otherwise would deter you, enter Tom Ripley, designed by Patricia Highsmith. Or Dexter, a sociopath with a mission, tempering his murderous endgame with rules. 

Those who transgress for personal gain abound in the selection of titles below, chilling to think that these are librarian’s favourites! Classic characters are reprised in graphic novel form and delving into our electronic vault will locate the original inspiration. Recent additions to our catalogue will entertain while making you cringe and maybe provide a wry smile of recognition.  Enjoy!

Overdrive cover Parker: The Outfit, Donald E. Westlake (ebook)… Villain: Parker
Cooke is back and following up the New York Times best-selling Hunter with a heart-pounding sequel: The Outfit. After evening the score with those who betrayed him, and recovering the money he was cheated out of from the syndicate, Parker is riding high, living in swank hotels and enjoying the finer things in life again. Until, that is, he’s fingered by a squealer who rats him out to the Outfit for the price they put on his head… and they find out too late that if you push Parker, it better be all the way into the grave! (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Dirty Money, Richard Stark (Audiobook) Villain: Parker (so professional he gets 2 titles)
Master criminal Parker takes another turn for the worse as he tries to recover loot from a heist gone terribly wrong. Parker and two cohorts stole the assets of a bank in transit, but the police heat was so great they could only escape if they left the money behind. Now Parker and his associates plot to reclaim the loot, which they hid in the choir loft of an unused country church. As they implement the plan, people on both sides of the law use the forces at their command to stop Parker and grab the goods for themselves.Parker will do whatever it takes to redeem his prize, no matter who gets hurt in the process. (Overdrive description)

Gone girl / Flynn, Gillian (print), (DVD) Villain: … not giving it away
“On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors… the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior.  Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet? With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Codename Villanelle / Jennings, Luke  Villain… toss a coin
She is the perfect assassin. A Russian orphan, saved from the death penalty for the brutal revenge she took on her gangster father’s killers. Ruthlessly trained. Given a new life. New names, new faces – whichever fits. Her paymasters call themselves The Twelve. But she knows nothing of them. Konstantin is the man who saved her, and the one she answers to. She is Villanelle. Without conscience. Without guilt. Without weakness. Eve Polastri is the woman who hunts her. MI5, until one error of judgment costs her everything. Then stopping a ruthless assassin becomes more than her job. It becomes personal. ” (Catalogue)

Use of weapons / Banks, Iain Villain: Elethiomel
“The man known as Cheradenine Zakalwe was one of Special Circumstances’ foremost agents, changing the destiny of planets to suit the Culture through intrigue, dirty tricks and military action. The woman known as Diziet Sma had plucked him from obscurity and pushed him towards his present eminence, but despite all their dealings she did not know him as well as she thought. The drone known as Skaffen-Amtiskaw knew both of these people. It had once saved the woman’s life by massacring her attackers in a particularly bloody manner. It believed the man to be a lost cause. But not even its machine could see the horrors in his past…” (Catalogue)

Charcoal Joe : an Easy Rawlins mystery / Mosley, Walter Villain: Mouse
“Picking up where his last adventures in Rose Gold left off in L.A. in the late 1960s, Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins has started a new detective agency. Easy’s friend Mouse introduces him to Rufus Tyler, a very old man everyone calls Charcoal Joe. Joe’s friend’s son, Seymour (young, bright, top of his class in physics at Stanford), has been arrested and charged with the murder of a white man from Redondo Beach. Joe tells Easy he will pay and pay well to see this young man exonerated, but seeing as how Seymour literally was found standing over the man’s dead body at his cabin home, and considering the racially charged motives seemingly behind the murder, that might prove to be a tall order.” (Catalogue)

Ripley’s game / Highsmith, Patricia Villain: Ripley
“With its sinister humor and genius plotting, Ripley’s Game is an enduring portrait of a compulsive, sociopathic American antihero. Tom Ripley detested murder, unless it was absolutely necessary. If possible, he preferred someone else to do the dirty work. In this case, a victim of a fatal disease, who will murder for a reward in order to provide for his young widow and child.” (Catalogue)

 

The doll factory / Macneal, Elizabeth Villain: Silas
“London. 1850. The Great Exhibition is being erected in Hyde Park and among the crowd watching the spectacle two people meet. For Iris, an aspiring artist, it is the encounter of a moment – forgotten seconds later, but for Silas, a collector entranced by the strange and beautiful, that meeting marks a new beginning. When Iris is asked to model for pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Suddenly her world begins to expand, to become a place of art and love. But Silas has only thought of one thing since their meeting, and his obsession is darkening . . .” (Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier (Audiobook) Villain: Mrs Danvers
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .
The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives—presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.

First published in 1938, this classic gothic novel is such a compelling read that it won the Anthony Award for Best Novel of the Century. “(Overdrive description)

Comic book gold! New graphic novels at WCL

The Adventure Zone book cover

Comic book titles hitting the library shelves this month feature award winners, best sellers, classics, antiheroes and more. Classics by Pearl S Buck, Octavia E Butler and Karl Marx have been transformed into visual narratives. Kindred has won awards and recognition in the form an Eisner award, and a Bram Stoker award. Maybe illustrator John Jennings’ colour samplings from bruises and blood had some influence there! This powerful adaptation is worth looking through, and if it’s the first taste you have of Octavia Butler’s work, lucky you! She is a fearless, insightful writer whose work deals with gender, race, age and class. Crime author Denise Mina, a recent Wellington visitor, is the writer for the latest John Constantine, Hellblazer.

The McElroy brothers playing Dungeons & Dragons with their dad is a different type of adaptation altogether. The Adventure Zone is a comic based on the podcast of the same name. Their fantasy characters are complete with ‘loafers of leaping and sprinting’ and proficiencies in wolf training and tea making. The graphic novel instantly became a New York Times trade paperback bestseller on release in August 2018.

Moon Knight [1] : crazy runs in the family / Bemis, Max
“Moon Knight has always been a protector from the shadows, but this new enemy is set to extinguish those shadows with blinding light and fire. Get ready for the introduction of Moon Knight’s greatest nemesis! But as the path of the Sun King brings him ever closer to Moon Knight, Marc has problems of his own: A man known as the Truth is driving people to suicide! Things get worse when Sun King and Bushman hit Marc where it hurts the most, and Jake Lockley’s dark secret is revealed! Will Moon Knight finally be eclipsed?” (Catalogue)

The good earth / Bertozzi, Nick
“Although more than eighty years have passed since Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth won the Pulitzer Prize, it has retained its popularity and become one of the great modern classics. This indelible portrait of China in the 1920s, when the last emperor reigned and the vast political and social upheavals of the twentieth century were but distant rumblings, tells the moving story of honest farmer Wang Lung and his selfless wife O-Lan. Bertozzi retraces the whole cycle of life depicted in Buck’s original novel: its terrors, its passions, its ambitions, and its rewards.” (Catalogue)

Kindred : a graphic novel adaptation / Duffy, Damian
“This searing graphic-novel adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s science fiction classic is a powerfully moving, unflinching look at the violent, disturbing effects of slavery on the people it chained together, both black and white – and made kindred in the deepest sense of the word. Home is a new house with a loving husband in 1970s California that is suddenly transformed into the frightening world of the antebellum South. Dana, a young black writer, can’t explain how she is transported across time and space to a plantation in Maryland.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Communist Manifesto / Rowson, Martin
“A graphic novel adaptation of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’s revolutionary pamphlet on the 200th anniversary of Marx’s birth, published in 1848. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’s Manifesto for the Communist Party was at once a powerful critique of capitalism and a radical call to arms. Much of what it proposed continues to be at the heart of political debate into the 21st century. It is no surprise, perhaps, that The Communist Manifesto (as it was later renamed) is the second bestselling book of all time, surpassed only by the Bible.” (Catalogue)

The Adventure Zone : here there be gerblins / McElroy, Clint
“Join Taako the elf wizard, Merle the dwarf cleric, and Magnus the human warrior for an adventure they are poorly equipped to handle AT BEST, guided (“guided”) by their snarky DM, in a graphic novel that, like the smash-hit podcast it’s based on, will tickle your funny bone, tug your heartstrings, and probably pants you if you give it half a chance.” (Catalogue)

John Constantine, Hellblazer. 19, Red right hand / Mina, Denise
Constantine discovers he’s cursed with empathy for his fellow man as the multi-layered tale races forward. Seeking the origin of the Empathy curse, Constantine and Chris roll into Glasgow in search of Steve Evans, a “massively powerful magician” who is waiting for Constantine. Meanwhile John finds out that there has been a connection between himself and Chris before they even met. Written by award-winning crime novelist Denise Mina. Collects issues #216-229.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Made men : getting the gang back together / Tobin, Paul
“When Jutte Shelley and her squad are gunned down in an ambush, it looks like the end for the Detroit police officers, but Jutte comes from a very storied family… named Frankenstein. Using the secrets of her ancestors, Jutte enters the family business of resurrection, bringing her squad back from the dead. Sort of. As long as you don’t look too close. Eager for revenge, they’ve no choice but to team with the Detroit mob, using them for the resources to find the lowlifes who did them in, now that Jutte has quite literally gotten the gang back together.” (Catalogue)

The song of Aglaia / Simon, Anne
French illustrator Anne Simon, known for her biographies of Freud, Marx and Einstein, delves into whimsy and other worldliness. “Aglaia is a simple sea nymph. One day, a Merman seduces Aglaia, forever altering her life’s course. She is cast out of Oceanid by her chauvinistic father, forcing her to wander many days and nights, until one day she finds herself at the benefit of one Mr. Kite, whose traveling circus welcomes her (including the star attraction, a waltzing Horse named Henry) and once again alters her fate, sending her down many more unexpected paths.” (Catalogue)