Cover of Stone Cold by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple

Stone Cold

Stone Cold is a noir mystery set in Edinburgh, Scotland in the 1930s.
My husband and I lived in Edinburgh for six months in the late
1980s and loved every moment of our time there. when I got the
initial idea for a graphic novel in which the detective was a gargoyle
(yeah a stone man who can’t leave the stone parapet where he was carved)
I turned to my son Adam who’s already published two adult novels set in
Edinburgh to co-write it with me. I’d already had three graphic novels
published–Foiled, Curses Foiled Again, and The Last Dragon. But Adam–
though he read comics and graphic novels–didn’t know how to write
them, so I taught him.

This is the first book of a trilogy called The Stone Man Mysteries. Take a look at the second book, Sanctuary.


What reviewers have said:

  • “Craig McGowan has little to believe in as a street urchin in 1930s Edinburgh, but just when he’s ready to give up and throw himself from the top of a church, he meets Silex, a demon trapped in a gargoyle statue who runs a crime-solving operation, since perching on a church for centuries is a bit boring. Craig becomes his investigator and confidante as they try to solve a string of murders plaguing the city. This first volume in Yolen and Stemple’s Stone Man Mysteries series sets up some enticing plot dynamics, including Silex’s true nature and plan, Craig’s intention in working for the demon detective, and what kinds of people they will encounter in the darker parts of Edinburgh. Zangara’s black and white drawings fit the brooding and menacing mood of this story, and the detail and nuance within his artwork encourage multiple readings to notice its subtleties. At a quick glance, his drawings may seem like unpolished sketches, but this approach enhances the story, matching the bleakness and supernatural strangeness of Craig’s world.” — Publishers Weekly
  • “In the 1930s, young teen Craig McGowan can’t find work in Edinburgh, so he climbs to a church rooftop to jump off. It’s then that a gargoyle, Silex, convinces the boy to work for him instead, to act as his eyes and ears in investigating a disturbing crime wave—the city’s plagued with a series of mysterious murders, with knives left plunged into the victims, whose throats were cut. Silex suspects a supernatural motive, and Craig and Father Harris, the priest of Silex’s church, soon find themselves in danger as the killer stalks more potential victims. Zangara’s black-and-white art with sometimes scratchy lines provides a gloomy atmosphere in keeping with the somber story, while his architectural details evoke a strong sense of place. Silex’s use of children harkens back to Sherlock Holmes and his Baker Street Irregulars, street kids who gather intelligence for the detective. Yolen and Stemple use enough Scottish vernacular that readers will need to pay attention while reading. Give this to middle- and high-school readers who enjoy mysteries mixed with dark fantasy.”—Booklist
  • Craig McGowan, a young, white Scot, is recruited by Silex, a gargoyle, to join his detective agency and solve crimes in a mystery graphic novel. In 1930s Edinburgh, Scotland, Craig contemplates ending his life from the top of a cathedral on which Silex, an ill-natured gargoyle, is perched. Thanks to Silex, Craig doesn’t go through with the jump. Together with Father Harris, an aging priest (also and unsurprisingly white), Silex runs an investigative service. To help solve a recent series of mysterious deaths, Silex invites Craig to join the agency, and as the teen begins his apprenticeship, Father Harris begins training Craig to gather information from locals. Throughout the mystery, Scottish colloquialisms are generously dispensed: “lads,” “lass,” “wee bairns,” “toffs,” “dodgy,” “git,” and more. Yolen and Stemple’s writing style draws heavily from detective and crime novels, adding to the pulpy feel of the text, mostly made up of dialogue augmented by Silex’s inner thoughts and selective snatches of third-person narration. Zangara mirrors the text with fittingly moody black-and-white panels that depict dark and intricate city skylines, expressive character close-ups, shadowy spreads, and slanted, rain-filled backgrounds. Political, theological, and socio-economic undertones reverberate, underscored by the occasional death scene. A visually engrossing noir debut in the vein of Sin City, this setup promises a number of sequels.”