Review: Red Handed – The Fine Art of Strange Crimes

Red Handed Matt Kindt

First Second Books‘ release of Red Handed – The Fine Art of Strange Crimes by Matt Kindt finds him stretching out and experimenting. However, Red Handed comes off a bit uneven at times.

While that may not come off as much of a compliment, Kindt does well to experiment with his narrative storytelling structure and offers interesting philosophical treatises on the nature of love, property, and theft.

Set in the fictional town of Red Wheel Barrow, Kindt gives readers an interesting character in the form of Detective Gould. As a basic opening into the plot, Detective Gould works at solving numerous crimes with a spotless and unerring record despite the fact that his extraordinary track record does nothing to deter crime. This topic slips around the substance of the narrative between him and a mystery criminal initially known as the facilitator.

This mystery criminal is slowly revealed as Kindt offers up various vignettes that are all connected to the conversation and ultimately provide the context to the larger plot at work within the story.Red Handed Matt Kindt

The mystery criminal pops in and out of the narrative with Detective Gould as a long list of quirky criminals pop up in each vignette, which includes a girl that steals chairs, an art thief that cuts masterpieces into smaller pieces to sell them, and a smut peddler to name a few.

Where Kindt shines with Red Handed is the content of the vignettes. Much of the story feel and mood accumulate through his unique talents as an illustrator. There are also some great moments that really dig deep into feelings and emotions within each character Kindt explores, providing a strong sense of empathy.

As a writer, Kindt provides some of the best glimpses of the interior lives of his characters to readers, allowing us to feel what they feel in a telepathic sense. The combination of this writing strength and his ability to visually create mood with color and shape make Red Handed worth reading.

With each passing vignette, there is an escalation in the philosophical discourse occurring. It’s in these moments that Kindt offers some interesting insights and questions. Despite this, the dialogue feels like it’s one voice thinking itself through a process rather than two differing viewpoints offering the full-scale of what a philosophical exchange can offer.

Red Handed Matt KindtThe structure and pacing of the plot was another area that felt like it could have been more than what it amounted too. Kindt had a brilliant notion about how to wind up the engine of the plot, but didn’t quite stick the landing.

Like Detective Gould, I think Kindt had a few more things to work out in his mind to make Red Handed a more cohesive story from front to back. More is revealed about the quirky set of characters throughout the story than Detective Gould, which contributes to the uneven aspects of the story because of the plot and ending. However, not too many authors are willing to push the envelope in terms of ideas and narrative the way Kindt does, which makes Red Handed rewarding in many ways.

Red Handed ultimately should be lauded for its daring approach even if it’s a bit uneven. The book engages and takes risks in its storytelling, and that should be celebrated. That’s enough for me.


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Comments (1)


Sounds really weird. In a good way. I'll be sure to check it out.

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