Breena Bard’s Trespassers starts with Gabby and her family heading to the lake house for the summer, continuing a long tradition. She’s a fan of classic mysteries; we see her reading Agatha Christie and The Westing Game. Her older sister and brother think she shouldn’t spend so much time with books.
Gene, the neighbor, is an older man who recently lost his wife. He fills them in on the new family, a couple from Chicago and their children. The kids start hanging out together, but the new ones are brash and a bit wild. Paige and her younger brother encourage Gabby and her brother to break into another lake house, an expensive place that stands empty year after year.
Gabby’s mother remembers when it was built, when she was Gabby’s age. A Chicago architect and his wife, a model, moved to the area, threw a huge party, and disappeared afterwards. Gabby takes that as inspiration to write her own murder story. When she finds out that her father’s job might be transferred, and this might be their last summer at the lake, finding out what happened becomes more important to her.
Bard’s art style is flat, with minimal shading. She’s more interested in giving an impression of the action, expression, or setting than realism, although her grasp of details is impressive. She clearly knows the rural bait and tackle shop or the feel of a trip in a family van.
She’s not afraid of color to distinguish objects, making her work easy to read and understand. It’s approachable rather than superficially attractive, functional instead of flashy.
The wordless scenes that show the family boating or cooking out are favorites. There wasn’t much of a typical summer this year, and those small but significant memories are poignant.
It’s appropriate that the mysteries Gabby likes are often referred to as cozies, as that’s the feeling this slow-paced story creates. It’s not about the answers — although in addition to the story of the fancy lake house, we find out what makes Paige so angry — but the time spent together as they’re sought.
(Review originally posted at Good Comics for Kids.)