The Russian Detective: Old Tricks, New Magic

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in or organising a workshop, seminar, course


The Russian Detective by author-illustrator Carol Adlam (Jonathan Cape, 2024) is part of the University of St Andrews text and adaptation project ‘Lost Detectives: Adapting Old Texts for New Media’, led by Dr Claire Whitehead (Reader in Russian), and generously funded by the University of St Andrews Knowledge Exchange and Impact Fund.
In Russia of the mid-1870s Charlotta Ivanovna (aka Charlie Fox) is an infamous daredevil stunt journalist and undercover reporter of dubious morals who has just been demoted due to her underhand reporting techniques. An orphan and runaway, Charlie is forced to confront her past when, on the brink of losing everything, she reluctantly returns with her dog Igoryok to her hometown to report on the extraordinary locked-room murder of Elena Ruslanova, daughter of a fabulously rich glass manufacturer.
The Russian Detective is loosely inspired by Murder at the Ball (1876), a ‘lost’ and untranslated nineteenth-century crime novel written by Semyon Panov, a contemporary of Dostoevsky. The graphic novel addresses the entire ‘lost’ genre of pulp crime fiction through the new character of Charlotta and explores the rich and rapidly changing visual world of the late nineteenth-century.
In her talk ‘The Russian Detective: Old Tricks, New Magic’, Carol Adlam will show previously unseen material from her work on the graphic novel. She will discuss the visual devices and visual languages available in the late nineteenth-century that she has used in the graphic novel—from the rayok (‘little paradise’) peepshow and lubok (woodcut broadsheet), to Pepper’s Ghost illusions, a Magic Lantern spectacular, early comics, the ‘type’ or urban physiology book, the Claude Mirror, and other devices—and their varying claims to authenticity in the context of crime fiction.
Period28 Mar 2023
Event typeSeminar
LocationSt AndrewsShow on map
Degree of RecognitionLocal