Written by Jamie S. Rich
Illustrated by Joelle Jones
B&W, Hardcover Graphic Novel
Oni Press, 2009
authors who attempt period private eye stories often end up turning out
pale pastiche or unintentional parody. Or their stories are so heavily
infused with the author's historical research that they read dry and
artificial. What is often forgotten is that the private eye mystery -
regardless of period - revolves around character more than plot. This is
different from most other sub-genres of mystery fiction, where plot is
all; a puzzle to be solved. In a P.I. story, it's all about people;
their secrets, their motives, their passions.
Jamie Rich and Joelle Jones' You Have Killed Me
is a private eye tale that remembers that, and is filled with
deftly-drawn (in all senses of the word), richly-developed characters.
investigator Antonio Mercer is hired to find an old flame, a high
society gal from his past, who has gone missing on the eve of her
wedding to a down-on-his-luck gambler. It's no surprise that Mercer's
investigation leads through smoky jazz clubs and dark back alleys, to
various and sundry unsavory individuals, nor that it ultimately becomes
very personal for our protagonist.
Rich's script is
sharp, with terse dialogue and narrative captions that don't fall into
the trap of trying to emulate Chandler's distinctive - and easily
parodied - flair for simile. Instead, the first-person captions are
employed sparsely and used to provide a bit of insight into Mercer's
private worldview. The story treads very familiar ground, but that's
okay - while familiar, it is feels fresh and is skillfully constructed.
art is clean and well-composed. Backgrounds are occasionally sketchy,
but the characters are all distinctive and expressive, and her
storytelling is clear and cinematic. Overall, it's beautiful stuff.
Press has done a really nice job on the production of the book, with
striking, attractive graphic design and high-quality paper and binding.
It's a truly gorgeous book.
You Have Killed Me is an excellent period P.I. tale, extremely well told. Highly recommended.
Six Out of Six Bullets.