Greg Rucka’s Stumptown opens with a woman getting shot on a the bank of a Portland river. The scene is in dark hues, with the would be killers lit up from the gun blast and the would be corpse falling into the river as the sun sets. After the shooting, the novel flashes back twenty seven hours when Private Investigator Dex Parios takes a job looking for the granddaughter of a casino owner. As she investigates, she finds herself tangled up in mob activity and family drama.
Unlike Rucka’s other series, Queen and Country, the story is predictable. Most of Dex’s questions are answered by the characters themselves, who have a knack for showing up and just telling her just what she needs to know. Dex is a hard drinking, trash talking, brassy P.I. whose “heart of gold” is revealed as she cares for her mentally challenged younger brother. Despite the lack of character development or a satisfying mystery, it is a quick and exciting read. Fans of Rucka’s earlier work will appreciate and recognize his female archetype in a new city. The dialog flows nicely with snappy comebacks and comeons. The artwork suits the tone with dark, shaded lines and looming landmarks. The artist, Matthew Southworth, makes good use of light and color. Overall, Stumptown is an entertaining read that’s neat to look at but disappears into the Portland night as quickly as it rose up.
Stumptown, vol. 1
Story by Greg Rucka, Art by Matthew Southworth
Oni Press, 2011