Scene of the Crime: A Little Piece of Goodnight
Before Gotham Central, Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark worked together on the mystery Scene of the Crime. Jack Herriman is a private eye hired by a woman to find her missing younger sister, who may have become involved with a strange commune-like group. Both she and Jack turn out to have father issues in common; when he was a teenager, Jack was raised by his uncle, a crime scene photographer who helps out on cases. Now, he’s fallen into something he’s at least competent to do while searching for meaning in his life.
Lark’s gritty, down-to-earth figures and settings are just right for Brubaker’s first-person captions, in the classic style of the seen-it-all-too-soon protagonist. Lark makes the many conversations necessary to tell the story interesting with a variety of camera angles. The dialogue is classic tough guy, using sardonic humor to avoid thinking about what he has to deal with every day. This case, in particular, combines sex, drugs, and family secrets, both his and his client’s.
As expected of the genre, we learn as much about the investigator as those he’s investigating. Like those who came before him, written by Macdonald or Chandler, it becomes personal when he gets more involved with his clients than he should. Unlike his predecessors, though, due to his upbringing, Jack doesn’t like anything to do with guns.
After the lengthy main case, there’s a short story also included in the book, a Christmas mystery of sorts. Unfortunately, there weren’t any further cases with this updated hard-boiled detective. That’s a shame, because there’s clearly more depth to the character, with lots of potential for future investigation.
Brubaker dedicates the book to his father, “to give him something he can enjoy for once”, and that’s not a bad summation. It’s a good book for mystery fans willing to try a comic that’s a modern take on the genre they enjoy.