Dark Horse Comics 2016
Written by John Arcudi
Illustrated by Toni Fejzula
Coloured by Andre May
Lettered by Joe Sabino
Linda Caruso is investigating the murder of an inmate in the Mariposa County Jail. With a short list of suspects who can’t escape, she thought it would be an easy case to solve. However, as new evidence comes to light, she only gets further from finding an answer.
There’s something to be said about this story. Linda was a damn good beat cop who through hard work, determination and possibly a quota to fill made it to Detective. Since then she’s been shuffled to her current assignment that was supposed to be an open and shut case. If there’s something to be said for Linda it’s that she’s thorough and that isn’t something that people necessarily want to see when they think something’s open and shut. So now she’s got more to prove than her skills as a detective and that inner drive well that’s just the start.
In so many ways this is like a locked room murder. The prison is a great place to tell a story like this too with the Warden thinking he’s in control and not wanting his reputation tarnished by this being something bigger than originally thought, or planned just adds a great dimension to the storytelling angle. As Linda goes through what she has to do to solve this case we’re seeing that nothing is what it appears to be and that the prison holds secrets that many would like to keep buried.
Meanwhile outside forces are also stacked against Linda. Her reputation among them is of some consternation among her superiors. It’s nice to see that the story is so well rounded and comes from angles that affect her. Also it makes the reader think that perhaps there is something else afoot in that hierarchy that someone would like to keep quiet as well.
Toni has a very unique style to his interior artwork here. It’s got a very nice distinct style to it and his rendition of these characters are unique and interesting. His use of page layouts through their angles, perspective and use of backgrounds do a lot to engage the reader. The colouring from Andre continues to add to that unique flair. There really are moments that capture the mind, imagination and surroundings in ways that are effective in throwing off the attention to what’s real and what’s a red herring.
John’s storytelling here is sharp and smart. I like the introduction of one guard who has more to hide than others and what his role in all this will be. Is he going to be the smoking gun or a liability for someone else? The signs show us that he’s involved but to what extent and under whose orders remain to be seen. The routine, life and way prison life goes is something many of us don’t understand but if you think it’s the Warden and the Guards who run the place than more often than not you’ll be mistaken.
It’s very smartly written whodunit that delves into these characters lives and motivations with an ease and simplicity that belies what’s really going on.