Feo Amante's Horror Thriller Feo's Stuff MYSTERY / THRILLER
Fanboy of Fear Feo Amante Review by
E.C.McMullen Jr.
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Writer/Artist: Tim Broderick
Publisher: Twilight Tales

Good Mysteries are never meant to be action tales of derring do. Oh sure, you can have your Mickey Spillane potboilers, but even I, THE JURY was bereft of car chase explosions at the end of every chapter. For my interest, the best mysteries start with something innocuous - even dull at first glance. Dull yet just a little odd. The kind of who dunnit that has the reader asking "Why would anyone get killed over something as simple as ...?"

Which brings us to Tim Broderick's graphic novel, SOMETHING TO BUILD UPON. If you are a comic buff that enjoys them for the artistry first, you may want to look elsewhere. Tim's drawings are incredibly minimalist, having each panel filled mostly with either the white of the page or loads of black ink. The characters are also poorly drawn with awkward poses that fail to convey any natural flow within the "frozen movement" of one panel to the next.

On the other hand, the story is subtle and rich.

Like the title, this tale starts with a very basic foundation and builds upon it. David DiAngelo is a quiet, rather in-drawn man who takes on certain odd jobs in life and gets paid reasonably well for it. In fact, he's a professional odd jobber. He knows what to do, where to link, and how to find things out at a much higher level than the guy who mows your lawn or fixes your fence. David was working at such an odd job, in this case, watching a house being built his new client's the Strattons, when Mr. Stratton was found dead in the new basement of the house. With Mrs. Stratton so close to delivering her baby, and her husband dead, intrusive cops prying into her life, and the expense of home builders, David takes on a new odd job with Lisa Stratton, though the story never makes it quite clear what Lisa has asked him to do.

At first glance, this story is deceptively simple. In addition to David's "odd job" work (this story is one in a potential "Odd Jobs" series), he also has his personal life to think of. David is becoming his work and that's a dangerous thing for a freelancer. To find your reason for existence flicker in and out with every new assignment is leaving David fearful for his future. He wants to make a life for himself and his heart quietly longs for his neighbor, the soft spoken and giving Helena.

It is actually the police that are the engine of this story. In most mystery/detective novels, the police only pop up like whack-a-moles, usually to give more clues to the private Dick / reporter / old lady than they ever glean from him/her. But in SOMETHING TO BUILD UPON they're intrusive and abusive and you get the feeling that they are only looking for a suspect to arrest - not the killer. They decide to go through David's personal computer to completely open up his life - even though they classify him as nothing more than a witness. The pushy Detective Meranski is straight up cut from the "angry cop" fabric of American Mystery / Detective novels and films ranging from Shell Scott to Kolchak. But it remains effective.

Interestingly, unlike many mystery novels, SOMETHING TO BUILD UPON gets no clearer with every page. Instead, author Broderick introduces us to a steady stream of characters both involved with the case and with DiAngeleo's personal life. For DiAngelo's personal and professional life are both a little more convoluted than anyone should like. David's burden is more of an intricate web than a weight and it is this self-made trap that the police are tripping into and tearing through as they try to solve the homicide. It is in the characters and their motivations that the picture begins to clear to its surprising finish. As good as the story is, though, this is not a novel but a graphic novel, and the influence of the art cannot be separated from the story. Minimalist is fine, but the art here is sorely lacking. I'm glad I didn't resist this book though and neither should you. Spend some time with Tim Broderick's new book and you'll be glad you have SOMETHING TO BUILD UPON.

Three Fanboys.

Review copyright 2005 by E.C.McMullen Jr.

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Feo Amante's Horror Home Page and feoamante.com are owned and copyright 1997 - 2006 by E.C.McMullen Jr.
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