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A Sickness in the Family [Hardcover]

Denise Mina
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

26 Nov 2010
Meet the Ushers. The parents, Ted and Biddy. Grandma Martha. The three kids, William, Amy and Sam. Just a normal, middle-class family gathered around the table on Christmas Day. Until they start dying. Violent deaths. One by one. Is there a curse on their house, as recently unearthed history of witchcraft in the area would suggest? Or has one member of the Usher clan declared open season on the rest? As secrets and resentments boil to the surface, it becomes clear that more than one Usher has motives for killing off the others. But in the end, the truth turns out to be far more shocking than anyone in this ill-fated family could have imagined.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Titan Books Ltd (26 Nov 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848564163
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848564169
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 762,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Denise Mina was born in Glasgow in 1966. Because of her father's job as an engineer, her family moved twenty-one times in eighteen years from Paris to the Hague, London, Scotland and Bergen. After leaving school at sixteen and a run of poorly paid jobs, she went on to study Law at Glasgow University and researched a PhD thesis at Strathclyde.

Misusing her grant, she stayed at home and wrote her first novel, Garnethill, which was published in 1998 and won the Crime Writers' Association John Creasy Dagger for best first crime novel.

Since 1998 she has written seven further novels, including most recently, Still Midnight. She also writes comics and in 2006 wrote her first play, 'Ida Tamson'. As well as all of this she writes short stories and is a regular contributor to TV and radio.

Author photo (c) Colin McPherson

Product Description


'Denise Mina has been writing for comic books since 2006 but this dark little gem is her best effort yet and is well worth checking out.' --Horror View

'Hard to put down...Fuso's minimalist style artwork is a great vessel for Mina's rich storytelling...A satisfying mystery.' --Press Association

About the Author

Denise Mina is the author of Deception, the Garnethill trilogy, and Still Midnight. She has worked in healthcare and taught criminology and criminal law. She lives in Scotland. Antonio Fuso is an Italian left-handed comic book artist unconditionally acclaimed by his family, his girlfriend and some of his friends... his cat hates him.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Horrible, but haunting 9 Dec 2010
Do you have a happy family life? Are you happy with your partner, your parents? Denise Mina is out to convince you that you are a blind fool: everyone is vile, hates you, and wishes you were dead!

'A Sickness in the Family' is a very well told tale, but you should probably take a happy pill before reading it. I finished it two days ago and I still feel contaminated by its misanthropic, scabrous take on family life. But even more, I am struggling to come to terms with the most affecting graphic novel I've ever read.

Without wanting to spill any secrets, we are hearing the story of a convicted murderer, but the graphic novel medium is not used to the possibility of an unrealiable narrator, and I found myself assuming that what was depicted on the page was 'the truth'. That was until the very last page, when the whole house of cards comes tumbling down. Are we seeing what really what happened? What a delusional mind believes happened? Or what a truly evil mind wants us to believe?

Beyond this we are looking at a fairly typical 'locked room' mystery. Unless you think the 'room' (in this case, a house) is haunted, as is weakly suggested... In the end, the killer is obvious, once you get into Mina's twisted mind.

So why not five stars? Well, I must admit I don't buy the level of hatred for family life. I'm just too happy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This was an excellent, fast read. There's something almost hallucinatory about the graphic story - the way it flashes before your eyes. Great dialogue, great characters. It reminded me of Poe and Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House. Brilliant stuff, which I think would make a very good short film.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Sickness in the Family 15 Oct 2013
A Sickness in the Family is a creepy little tale about the complexity of familial and financial relationships centred on the disintegration of the Usher family. Parents Ted and Biddy, their grown children William, Amy and Sam, and Grandmother Martha live together in a maisonette on Glasgow's Eton Terrace. After an inevitable tragedy befalls their downstairs neighbours, a violent thug and his Polish girlfriend, the Usher family buy the apartment with a view to extending their own home down a level. To this end, Ted commissions a bespoke staircase and then allows the builders to rip a massive hole in the floor of the house in preparation for the arrival of said staircase.

While this building work creates a physical hole in the Usher's family life, there are more serious matters afoot which threaten their collective emotional stability. Ted and Biddy are having marriage counselling and constantly sniping at each other, William has been sent down from university and will not explain why, Amy resents her father's decision to sell the family business and feels that her expertise are being overlooked, Sam has unresolved angst stemming from his adoption into the family, while Granny Martha is becoming an increasingly decrepit burden on everyone. And then, one by one, the family begin to die grisly, inexplicable deaths.

Denise Mina's first original graphic novel [she has previously had a run on Hellblazer], A Sickness in the Family is published through Vertigo's Crime imprint and is a neat little mystery story.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A Sickness in the Family 12 Oct 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Having enjoyed Mina's Garnethill trilogy I thought I would give a graphic novel written by her a go. The Ushers are a normal family until one-by-one they start dying. Is it a curse or are family secrets being unearthed and making someone within the family take revenge?

This comic was ok. The artwork is monochromatic and sometimes a little anime-ish but the story is predictable and not special. The story gains little by being told in graphic novel.

Ah well.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The curse of family 4 Aug 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Another in the Vertigo crime series. These are a range of graphic novels that are A5 sized and tell a crime story in just under two hundred pages. Of black and white art.

This particular entry in the range is written by Denise Mina. Anyone who has come to this by virtue of reading her prose novels and has zero experience with graphic novels: be aware that it's one of the latter. That is to say it's not a prose novel, a book of nothing but words. It's a graphic novel. One with words and pictures. Or to put it another way, a comic. But as they used to say 'comics aren't just for kids.' Because there's superheroes in here. It's a grown up story for grown up readers featuring the kind of tale you might find in her prose writings. Thus there's strong language and graphic moments, so it's strictly for grown up readers.

The story is about the Ushers. A seemingly typical scottish family. But as Sam, their adopted son who narrates the whole thing makes clear, there was a lot going on behind the ordinary facade they presented.

The parents are having marriage problems. Daughter Amy resents the fact that her father just sold the family business and she needs a lot of capital to go into business on her own. Son William has just been kicked out of university. And their gran needs full time care.

The story does start with scenes that flash back between the Ushers and events going on to other people in their building, but these things soon come together and result in them having a chance to do something different with their home.

Then gran has an accident. Or was it?

Then murder follows.

Who did it? Or since the house appears to be cursed was it, as Simon thinks, down to that?
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