Trevor Schalk was an aviation millionaire who was murdered 25 years ago. Before his death, his hypnotherapist tried to make it so he’d remember his previous life in his next. Now, an up-and-coming closeted actor thinks he has Schalk’s memories, and aspiring private eye Amy Devlin is hired to find out what’s going on in Past Lies, a mystery graphic novel written by Christina Weir & Nuncio DeFilippis and drawn by Christopher Mitten.
The situation allows for the dynamite line “I want you to find out who killed me.” Weir and DeFilippis, as a writing team, are able to handle diverse genres well — I’ve enjoyed their Maria’s Wedding (family soap opera); Skinwalker (horror mystery); and The Tomb (mystical adventure, illustrated by the same artist as here) — but while reading them, I get the feeling that they somehow all seem like movie pitches. In this case, that line would make a great trailer scene or ad copy. The movie association isn’t a bad thing; it means that the story moves with plenty of attention to action and visuals, and the dialogue is distinctive and snappy. Maybe I’m reading too much into the Hollywood setting and the writing team’s screenwriting background. (I’m pretty sure supporting couple Greg and Jen are real-life spouses Rucka and van Meter, though.)
Everyone’s got their quirks and their background, maybe too much. I’m kidding, I think it’s a good thing that I want to see more of some of the characters that have too little “screen time” and that they all seem three-dimensional, with more background than we’re able to get into. I also really like Mitten’s art. He’s got a simple, sparse style that’s a bit skewed to suit odd stories (like Last Exit Before Toll). And I’m a sucker for female private eyes.
The book is set up, with the subtitle “An Amy Devlin Mystery”, as first in a series, and I hope we see more. The work isn’t deeply affecting, but it’s an entertaining read, the equivalent of a good popcorn flick.