Michael Lark's artwork on The Little Sister was stylish, atmospheric, even moody. Scene of the Crime: A Little Piece of Goodnight lends itself to a more illustrative storytelling style, however, because the writer, Ed Brubaker, has given him a story that demands attention to detail and not attention to mood. On Scene of the Crime, with the help of the inking of Sean Phillips, Lark's artwork is much more illustrative and less atmospheric.
Most crime comics on the market today are hyper-violent tales of sin and redemption, but lack the mystery element that made the writings of Hammett, Chandler, and MacDonald so compelling. Brubaker has given us a tale of sin and redemption and mystery that matches any of the aforementioned authors.
The story is told through Jack Harriman, twenty-something private investigator that works in San Francisco. When his Paul Raymonds sends a client his way it he eventually uncovers family woes, cults, blackmail, and murder. Harriman is a fleshed out character, whose father (a policeman whose partner was Paul Raymonds) died when Jack was a teenager. Jack watched helplessly as he watched the car his father was driving explode. His eye bears a scar as a testament to the fact. After several years of self-destructive behavior, he is now trying to make a decent career as a private investigator and to put his life back together. His office is over the art gallery called Scene of the Crime, run by his uncle who was at one time a police photographer.
It is self-destructive behavior that is at the heart of this story. Why do so many of Jack's generation go down that path? Why is there so much pain and suffering that they just want to put themselves out of their own misery? But I've given the story away too much all ready.
"A Little Piece of Goodnight" is a solid story with believable characters and a mysterious plot that keeps the reader guessing. My only qualm is that it ties up a little too neatly at the end. The tensions between the characters are all resolved and it seems to me that they all didn't need to be, especially if there are to be more Scene of the Crime stories some day. And I sincerely hope there are.
All text (C) 2000 LCB
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