The Delilah Dirk Series is a comic that’s been on my radar for quite some time. It’s an all-ages, adventure series featuring a daring and deadly female lead and I was pretty sure that I was going to love it. I finally found the first volume at my local bookstore last week and I’m pleased to report that it is just as fun and exciting as I had hoped it would be!
Erdemoglu Selim is a mild-mannered lieutenant in the Turkish military and, while stationed at the palace in Constantinople, he is tasked with interrogating a rather unique prisoner. Her name is Delilah Dirk and she claims to be a world traveler, a deadly swordswoman, a master escape artist and even to have the ability to fly! She also mentions that she’s there in the palace to steal some priceless scrolls. While Mr. Selim’s superior laughs at these far-fetched stories, it turns out Delilah’s claims might not be as ridiculous as they had first thought. When she escapes her cell, Mr. Selim is blamed for it and ordered put to death. Lucky for him, Delilah interrupts the execution by killing the guards and Mr. Selim ends up joining her in as she flees the palace. Now on the run from the military, Mr. Selim decides to join Delilah on her travels, but keeping company with Delilah Dirk is not for the faint of heart! Along the way the pair successfully steal treasure from a dangerous pirate, narrowly escape death at the hands of said pirate’s underlings and survive a precarious flight in Delilah’s flying machine/boat. Will Delilah’s devil-may-care lifestyle prove to be too much for her new friend? Or will Mr. Selim develop a taste for adventure that will change him forever?
Delilah and Mr. Selim have a dynamic that is somewhat akin to that of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson; the down to earth side-kick acts as our point of view character through whose eyes we are privy to the exploits of the eccentric and practically mythic title character. I say that Delilah is practically mythic because she has a whole laundry list of skills, talents and accomplishments that are all pretty incredible, but that isn’t to say that she is without flaws. She makes mistakes and one of the things I appreciate the most about her character is that she is willing to apologize when she feels that she has messed up. The other thing I appreciate about her is that she is hilarious! She is cheerful and irreverent in the middle of even the most dangerous of circumstances and she plays off the polite and affable Mr. Selim well. The two exchange many a witty repartee and generally have a very pleasant journey together, when no one is trying to kill them or take back the treasure they stole, that is. While Mr. Selim is something of an every-man type character, he is not an uncomplicated one. Delilah and her schemes drive the action of the story, but the central conflict of the book revolves around Mr. Selim. He initially only goes along with Delilah out of a sense of obligation, since she saved his life, and he had never desired to be a globe-trotting adventurer. Early on in their partnership he is tempted to abandon her mid-treasure-heist for a more safe and normal life. While he manages to resist the temptation then and starts to enjoy the thrilling nature of their adventures, he still thinks that he wants a quiet life. Mr. Selim was thrust into this new lifestyle by circumstance and when an opportunity arises for him to settle down in a friendly and peaceful village, he must decide what he really wants. To take the safe but predictable path? Or a more dangerous road full of excitement and exploration?
I had a lot of fun reading this book. The action scenes are exhilarating and flow smoothly so it’s easy to follow what’s going on. The dialogue is funny and the artist does a wonderful job incorporating physical humour into the story, especially in the action sequences where Mr. Selim bumbles his way through fights. One of my favourite running gags of the series involves Mr. Selim or Delilah trying to pay for things only for people to fervently refuse to take their money. Hospitality is a cornerstone of Turkish society and I enjoyed how the comic showed us this through a recurring joke rather than told us this through exposition. This scene, where Delilah tries to give a kind man who allowed them to stay in his house a jewel as payment only for him to stubbornly refuse to take it, is one of my favourite moments in the whole book. They end up stuffing the gem in a flowerpot on their way out.
Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant is a charming read that’s full of exciting action and narrow escapes and that has a truly endearing friendship at its core. I can’t wait to see what shenanigans Delilah and Mr. Selim get up to in the next volume and I have already placed on order for the sequel. Look forward to seeing my review of Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling in the near future!
Final Score: 8 out of 10
For more information on Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant visit First Seconds website: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781596438132
Check out my reviews of the other books in the series: