Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Leiutenant by Tony Cliff
I’m often told that adventuring isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but Tony Cliff’s Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant reinforces what my younger self believed wholeheartedly: Adventuring is awesome, if a little lonely. You get to travel the world, collect treasure, and meet interesting people (who sometimes want to kill you). But even the attempted killing adds to the zest of the adventurer’s life!
Delilah Dirk is daring and brave, with the wits to get herself out of any bad situation (even if she can’t always avoid getting trapped in said bad situation to begin with) and a host of tricks and gadgets at her disposal. In her own words, she:
…is the master of forty-seven different sword-fighting techniques … which she’s used, on different occasions, to defeat twenty-nine Sikh warriors … thirty-two Conquistadores … fifty-one aboriginal Australian warriors … a small pride of lions … and one very large Mongolian man with a large sword, a small brain, and a bad temper.
She’s even, briefly, got a flying boat! If you want to know why the boat only makes a brief appearance, you’ll need to ask Lieutenant Selim, who is far more content to stay on dry land and indulge his expansive knowledge of tea. Even Selim can’t deny that Delilah makes things more interesting, though, and after a set of mishaps that drive him from his comfortable post in Turkey, his experiences with Delilah open up a host of opportunities for adventure, companionship, and yes, tea. As to what she’s doing in Constantinople/Istanbul in the year 1807, and what’s led her to such an extravagantly globe-trotting life, that’s not my story to tell — I’ll leave that for readers of Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant to discover on their own.
Cliff’s art style is effortless and wonderfully expressive, with a clear sense of mobility and fluidity. Characters are fully alive in their environments and many panels seem to be just on the verge of breaking out of their boundaries. Cliff has a great eye for color, light, and shadow, using all of them to terrific effect. Sound effects are written out in interesting ways, the dialogue itself is fun, and the interactions between Delilah and Selim run the gamut from laugh-out-loud hilarious to solemn and profound, whether they’re audibly conversing or communicating through wordless gestures.
Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant is fun, and a perfect antidote to my winter doldrums. I’ll be cracking open the first sequel, Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling, as soon as possible, with an eager eye toward the series’ third book, Delilah Dirk and the Pillars of Hercules, currently expected to be published in late summer 2018. Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant is equally suitable for younger readers or adults, and highly recommended for both.