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A Killing in Comics    by Max Allan Collins & Terry Beatty order for
Killing in Comics
by Max Allan Collins
Order:  USA  Can
Berkley, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

When the story opens, readers are invited into a fancy suite at the famous Waldorf-Astoria in 1948. Donny Harrison, the notorious comic book executive and the publisher of the wildly popular Wonder Boy comics, is throwing a 50th birthday party for himself. Ludicrously dressed in a Wonder Boy costume, the obnoxiously rude Harrison suddenly falls to floor and (accidentally?) stabs himself with the birthday cake knife. And - quicker than you can say, 'He's dead!' - everyone realizes that Harrison has just begun assuming room temperature.

Well, the various mourners and acquaintances variously reflect on the news of Harrison's untimely (but perhaps somewhat joyously celebrated) demise, and now they all watch as the comic book publishing world is turned upside down. Rumors about Harrison's death are quickly confirmed by the police department, and now Harrison’s peculiar departure to the not so comic world of the dead is being investigated as a murder.

Re-enter Jack Starr. (He was at the birthday party, but he now must take center stage in A Killing in Comics, one of this year's most inventive, old-fashioned mysteries.) As a licensed private investigator and a comic business insider (since his family has owned and operated Starr Syndicate for many years), Jack is the perfect person to find out what really happened to Harrison. Questions begin to accumulate: How was Harrison actually murdered? Was his wife Selma Harrison somehow responsible? What about business partners Louie Cohn and Sy Mortimer? Perhaps Harriet 'Honey' Daily - Harrison's very personal secretary - knows something. Maybe creators of Wonder Boy - Harry Spiegel and Moe Shulman - are involved. Or maybe - just maybe - the truth will be found elsewhere. Whatever the truth, Jack Starr is the one person who can sort it all out!

This fast-paced, outrageously entertaining romp from prolific Max Allan Collins (and illustrated by Terry Beatty) is a great addition to the comic-noir world of mystery fiction. Crisp, wry, and sardonic, Collins has adroitly blended the fictional and real-life worlds (of comics publishing) into a terrific tale full of twists, turns, and plenty of suspense. Read it and enjoy!

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