IDW: In Memoriam - John Lewis, Congressman, Icon, Beloved Author

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The Folly of the World

The Folly of the World bounces around its 15th-century Flemish setting at first, with two prologues: a mysterious pair row a boat over a flooded village in the springtime; come the fall, the condemned Sander Himbrecht escapes a hanging and dives into a river. Soon, though, Jesse Bullington settles into a narrative groove, as a con man named Jan Tieselen encounters Jolanda, a rebellious teenage girl, along a coastal road. Discovering her to be an excellent swimmer, Jan buys Jo from her father and takes her to Rotterdam, where--unexpectedly reunited with Sander--he reveals his scheme. The three will go back to that flooded village, and Jolanda will dive into the sunken house of Jan's illegitimate father to find a family heirloom that will enable him to claim the Tieselen title and fortune. Of course, things don't work out as planned....

Bullington's mashup of late medieval setting and hardboiled plot is exquisite. The conniving Jan, violently paranoid Sander and fast-learning Jo make a perfect noir team, barely able to hold itself together. There's a rough-hewn authenticity to every aspect of the novel, from the period details to Jo's surreptitious observation of Jan and Sander's sexual relationship. Although it's billed as a fantasy, The Folly of the World wears that mantle lightly, as the truly weird stuff--like just what happened to Sander in that river--is never fully explained. But that just makes the story even more deliciously unsettling. --Ron Hogan, founder of Beatrice.com