Silent Partner is based on a novel originally published in 1989, the fourth in the Alex Delaware series by Jonathan Kellerman. Delaware is a child psychologist who solves murder mysteries, and the newest book in that series, Victims, comes out the same day as this graphic novel adaptation, for cross-promotion purposes.
I haven’t read the novels, but I’ve been a fan of Ande Parks’ crime writing since Capote in Kansas. He does an excellent job making this feel like a comic, not a repackaging. The plot is heavily twist-driven, and I found Michael Gaydos’ realistic art style a big help in keeping all the characters straight in a story that depends on multiple identities and likenesses. Some of the cast are two-dimensional, at best, a collection of stereotypical roles, but the images help flesh them out.
I don’t want to say too much about the plot, but here’s the opening premise: Alex and his girlfriend Robin have separated. An old friend of Alex’s drags him to a fancy party, where he unexpectedly meets a former love of his life. She commits suicide shortly thereafter, and Alex tries to figure out what happened, eventually discovering a twisted, tortured past.
No previous knowledge of the Delaware character or books is required, especially since our lead narrates much of what we need to know. It’s a gripping read that maybe didn’t need to be a comic, but I only read it because it was, so perhaps that answers that question. The visuals certainly help set the stage for the flashbacks in terms of period fashions. And it’s one of those books where I wanted to re-read it just after I finished, now that I know what happened, to figure out all the double-crosses and plot reverses.
A preview has been posted at suvudu.com. (The publisher provided a review copy.)