I’ve written before about my fondness for books filled with pullouts and other ephemera; bonus points are awarded to books that go the extra step and format the pages and/or cover to fit a theme. And then there are books that do it all like the recent Titan Books release of The Blacklist: Elizabeth Keen’s Dossier, an amazing nod to The Blacklist TV show.
I tuned in to The Blacklist because of James Spader; I’d watch him do an infomercial for a set of steak knives to be honest. Huge fan of Spader’s portrayal of Raymond Reddington (especially his tailored vests). But along the way I’ve also become quite fond of the other actors and actresses on the show. The premise hooked me (ex-CIA officer gone rogue turns himself in and assists CIA with catching bad guys on his numbered blacklist), and while the show continues its bad-guy-of-the-week format, there are subplots stacked on subplots with plenty of twists and turns and surprises.
The book is a real labor of love by what are obviously two huge fans of the show, Tara Bennett and Paul Terry. Both have previous experience creating prop-style books such as the Fringe: September’s Notebook and the Lost Encyclopedia among other geek-y publications.
This dossier is done up like a real scrapbook; it’s even got Elizabeth’s initials (ESK) embossed on the black cover! Inside, the book is divided into sections with tabs — The FBI, The Blacklist, Connections, and Tom Keen. (Viewers of the show will understand an entire tab being dedicated to Tom Keen.) What I love about books that go the extra mile is how the layout lends to the credibility of the included content — images of binder clips, coffee stains, handwritten notes, pull outs, clear tape, and more. It lets readers dive into the fictional world and feel like they stumbled upon Elizabeth Keen’s secret research into Red (Raymond Reddington) as well as the information gathered over time as the team is led (lured?) by Red into turning over rocks and discovering Blacklisters and how they all fit into the larger puzzle.
The biggest section of the dossier, by the way, is the actual Blacklist. Covering the first two seasons, readers are going to enjoy getting up-close looks at a lot of the background material that is often only visible in quick 2-second glimpses on the War Board. Because this is an official book, I imagine the authors were given access to quite a bit of the backstory and even details that didn’t make it into the episodes. I found myself grinning constantly as I read through the dossier, feeling like I was an observer (or an actual participant) in pouring over the research. And the manilla envelope stuck into the back of the dossier and stamped with a certain mark that fans will recognize? Inside is… well… let’s just say that the authors left themselves a way to sneak in some season 3 material.
Fans of the show will really appreciate the time and energy put into the 160-page full color dossier, but if you’ve not caught any of it, Netflix has the first two seasons (don’t wait too long, of course, or you may find yourself stuck mid-way as I did when they pulled Doctor Who) and season 3 is closing in on its finale soon.
Images provided by Titan Books for this post and are TM & © 2016 Sony Pictures Television Inc.
Note: I received a review copy of The Blacklist: Elizabeth Keen’s Dossier from Titan Books.