Well, Rick Geary has done it again. My favorite teller and illustrator of true crime stories has entered another yarn into his A Treasury of XXth Century Murder series and this one is definitely a doozy. On Saturday, September 16, 1922, a young amorous couple walked down a popular Lovers’ Lane around the city of New Brunswick, New Jersey. Hoping to find a nice place to smooch, they instead found something much more sinister – two dead bodies right there in the open. Get ready to get sucked into Rick’s spectacular tale of love, deceit, murder, and witnesses galore in the newest book in his Eisner Award winning series. You won’t want to put down Lovers’ Lane: the Hall-Mills Mystery until the shocking, and somewhat anti-climactic (not in a bad way), end!
This story of murder and deceit only exists because of two lonely people – Edward Wheeler Hall and Eleanor Reinhardt Mills. Both adults were in seemingly loveless marriages – Edward to the heiress of the Johnson & Johnson fortune and Eleanor to James, a man of limited intelligence and limited in his ability to display any romantic feelings towards his wife. Eleanor threw herself into life at her church, the Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist, of which Edward (dun, dun, dun) was the Reverend. As the two became friends, and Eleanor started spending more and more of her time there, their relationship turned from friendly to romantic, with most of the small town noticing and gossiping about it at length. Things had come to a breaking point, with both parties agreed that something must change in their relationship for it to survive. Little did they know that that something would be murder!
Eleanor and Edward were found that Saturday morning posed with their love letters strewn about them. Does this mean their killer knew them and was taking revenge? The way Eleanor was killed, especially considering the information discovered after the second autopsy, seemed to suggest it was a crime of anger or jealousy perpetrated upon two trysting adulterers. Yet many other theories emerge, as is customary with the stories Rick chooses to bring to life, which throw the reader into a questioning tailspin – was it the jealous wife? The jealous husband? Some random drunk passerby? The KKK? All and nothing will be revealed by the final page and readers will spend time after the book has been closed ruminating on what might have really happened.
As usual, any book in Geary’s Murder series (A Treasury of XXth Century Murder and A Treasury of Victorian Murder) is perfect, not only for teens and adults interested in true crime, but also those interested in historical stories or mysteries. I can’t say it enough — Geary really does a great job researching his stories, providing all the angles for readers, as well as providing wonderfully drawn illustrations and maps for the reader to peruse.
Geary’s perfectly flawless black and white line drawings complement the complex and overwhelming stories, providing clear and concise pictures to really bring the story to life. Each panel provides a great amount of information, through both the words and drawings, in a way that won’t overwhelm the reader. Geary’s stories are never cut and dried and I appreciate having information presented to me both through words and pictures. I have recommended many of Geary’s books to readers who are researching a specific event and those who might be thrown by the idea of a graphic novel being well researched, important additions to the record of the crime quickly have their minds changed after reading one of Geary’s great tomes. This is another great addition to his Treasury of XXth Century Murder series and I can’t wait until the next installment!