A Dummy's Guide to Danger
by Jason M. Burns, Ron Chan (Viper, 2007)

It's an unusual concept, I'll give you that.

A Dummy's Guide to Danger is your basic hard-boiled detective yarn. Except writer Jason M. Burns adds a twist, right from the start: private investigator Alan Sirois carries a ventriloquist's dummy on his back; he believes it to be his paraplegic partner who lost the use of his legs on an earlier caper. This of course leads to an entertaining progression of dialogue, when you recall that Sirois, at some subconscious level, is providing both sides of every conversation as they track down a serial killer.

The dialogue is handled so well that I'd occasionally call it heart-warming ... and sometimes you might forget that Mr. Bloomberg is just a wooden doll.

Ron Chan handles the art with clean lines and dramatic angles. He certainly gives Burns' story its due.

I cannot let one niggling detail pass without comment. Burns makes use of a clever clue at the first murder scene; Sirois and Bloomberg identify the headless victim, actress Sienna Stacey, in part because the killer's note is written in the burnt sienna flavor of crayon. Unfortunately, in every scene thereafter she is referred to as "Sierra," which spoils the pun and renders the clue inert. Proofread, people!

The book also includes a brief backup story, "Kitty Eater," featuring our heroes in their next adventure -- finding a pet killer who may or may not believe he's a vampire. Burns handles action and dialogue with his usual style; however, artist Paul Tucker shoddy pages pale in comparison to Chan's, however, and he might want to look for a different line of work.

review by
Tom Knapp

20 November 2010

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