Mystery Books for Sale

[ Home ]
[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]


by Max Allan Collins
Berkley, May 2007
272 pages
ISBN: 042521365X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

A KILLING IN COMICS is set in 1948 Manhattan amidst the publishing world of American Comics and comic strip characters. It is also a time when the role of the comic strip character was undergoing a substantial change and becoming a lot darker along with a harder edge.

When Donny Harrison the publisher for Americana Comics and publisher of the Wonder Guy dies (dressed up as his comic strip character) at his 50th birthday party it is up to Jack Starr, a former World War II veteran who works for the newspaper syndicate that distributes the comic strip, to find out who would want to murder him.

The party where Harrison dies is being held at his mistress's flat and amongst those present are his wife, a number of cartoonists and others with various (suspicious) links to him. They are all questionable and have in their own eyes reasons for wanting him dead. As Jack digs into his background, the list of potential suspects continues to grow.

A KILLING IN COMICS is told in first-person from Jack's point of view. He is interested in finding the real killer of Harrison because if he does not then it will have financial implications for Starr Syndication.

Jack Starr is an unusual character. A licensed private eye, he is also the vice president of Starr Syndication (the newspaper syndicate that belonged to his late father) and their chief troubleshooter. However, he is not content sitting behind a desk and would rather leave that to his glamorous stepmother ex-striptease artist Maggie Starr whom he claims is the smartest woman he knows.

Setting a murder mystery amongst the writers who created some of the world's most iconic characters in comics and during the early period of their creation, coupled with the retro comic art, makes A KILLING IN COMICS a clever and inspiring move for a novel.

Comic strip buffs will undoubtedly recognise the barely-hidden characters and will also take heart from the way in which the dialogue moves along at a fair pace without leaving the reader feeling rushed. With an abundance of twists and turns along with the colourful characters the story certainly comes to life. One can surely imagine this as a comic strip in its own right.

A KILLING IN COMICS embraces not only elements of the hard-boiled novel but also the tensions within the industry and the power struggles taking place amongst the various creators of the different comic strips. It may be very tongue-in-cheek but this novel is an excellent treat for all readers and lovers of comic strip characters, pulp fiction and noir/dime novels. It will certainly bring a smile to your face and bring out that inner child lurking in the background. It is not surprising to see why these comics reigned supreme.

Max Allan Collins is an author extraordinare. He has written novels, short stories and a lot more in different genres and is knowledge is vast. For someone who at one stage in his own ongoing illustrious career wrote about Dick Tracey it is not hard to see that this is most certainly a labour of love. I only hope that we might get to see more of Jack and Maggie Starr.

Reviewed by Ayo Onatade, November 2007

[ Top ]



Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]
[ Home ]