I think it’s safe to say that at one point or another we’ve all wanted to frame someone for a crime they didn’t commit, whether for the purposes of sweet revenge or just plain fun, but what would it take to frame someone for the ultimate crime? In Tony Cooper‘s The Murder Club we get to find out! Yes friends, The Murder Club is all about nefarious schemes that involve pinning the high crime of murder on someone who is completely innocent, whilst getting away scot-free (do not attempt)! Alright then, let’s take a relatively spoiler-free look at The Murder Club: Useless Deaths Part 1!
Welcome to the prestigious Brighthall Academy, where the most intelligent (and wealthy) of students learn mathematics, science, literature,…uh…dodgeball and…some other things. Brighthall Academy contains all the hallmark archetypes of what I like to call “fictional high school drama” (original designation: do not steal), such as jocks, nerds, loners, freaks and what have you, but in The Murder Club Tony Cooper adds a bit of insanity by introducing a couple psychopaths into the mix.
When student Sophia Marcello commits suicide over the summer vacation, the faculty at Brighthall Academy decide to offer counseling to the affected students. While most of the faculty and student body are mourning and coping with the tragic loss, others use Sophia’s death as an opportunity to create some serious mischief. Meet Tom, Brighthall Academy’s resident maniac, and boy is he crazy! Tom enlists fellow student Lisa by “challenging” her to a game of murder and deceit. Tom has got it in his head that Lisa is also a psychopath, or at the very least leads her to believe he does, and convinces her to come up with a “mock up” plan of framing Blake for Edward’s murder.
All is not as it seems of course, as despite Tom’s reasoning for framing Blake, it appears as though Tom may have a personal vendetta against him; a vendetta that he does not disclose to Lisa during their various meetings. Additionally, there exists the possibility that Tom is simply using Lisa to enact his vicious plans as a fail-safe in case everything backfires and goes haywire (kinda rhyme?). After all, we must remember that since Tom is a psychopath he lacks empathy and will use his charismatic nature to take advantage of others for his own insane purposes. What a sweetheart!
Tony Cooper does an excellent job of portraying Tom’s character. From the get-go there is just something about him that seems…extremely off. His facial expressions, his eyes; everything about him just screams “murderous psychopath,” and it’s fantastic. During Tom’s first meeting with Lisa while they are discussing how to get away with murder, we see Tom drinking out of a juice box which I think perfectly illustrates his nihilistic nature. Not only that, but it is a stark reminder that these are young teenagers who lack a broad scope of understanding of the consequences that may arise. Except Tom, since he’s crazy.
Tom’s philosophy behind framing Blake for Edward’s murder is not dissimilar from something you might see in the Saw movies. Since Edward is a loner and allegedly expresses his desire to commit suicide on internet forums, Tom sees Edward’s life as having little value. By staging a murder in which Blake, a known drug dealer and all around lousy individual, violently puts an end to Edward’s life, it not only gives Edward’s life value (in death) but it also delivers sweet justice upon Blake. I gotta say, some of that makes a lot of sense (::dodges tomatoes::) with the exception of the murder, and the death, and Edward’s life having no value…hmm…on second thought, scratch that. It’s an obscene notion to commit such an atrocious act, but it makes for a darn good story!
The artwork in The Murder Club is also handled by Cooper, and he does a fantastic job. As previously mentioned, Tom is flawlessly devilish and comes off as completely unhinged and insane, while Lisa slowly transforms from a malleable wallflower into a willing participant in Tom’s evil crusade of death and lies (heh). It’s really all in the facial expressions and Cooper captures the nuances of his characters with ease. Everything is consistently well done throughout the seventy some-odd pages of this first volume, and the artwork really helps to set the tone of the story. It’s got this creepy vibe (especially during any scene with Tom) going on, and things get real dark real quick.
I can happily recommend The Murder Club to readers who enjoy darker stories that are grounded closer to reality, or to anyone who is looking for something a little different. There is a fair amount of bad language throughout, so that’s something to watch out for. Well, that and the fact that the entire book is about murder, suicide, death, violence, crime and conspiracies, so it’s fair to say that The Murder Club is most certainly not for younger readers. So, if you’re old enough and you’re into some of the aforementioned activities (you sick puppy, you), this book will not disappoint.
For more about The Murder Club check out the official website, then follow Tony Cooper on Facebook and Twitter. Once you’ve got that all sorted out, gingerly and electronically skip your way down to the official Kickstarter campaign and get your copy of the book! Go ahead, skip gingerly! No seriously, I insist.
What do you think of The Murder Club? Will you be getting your own copy? Let us know in the comments section and on our Twitter page!