Monday, March 18, 2013
Hard Case Crime's Seduction of the Innocent by Max Allan Collins is the third of his Jack and Maggie Starr mysteries set in and around the world of comic strips and comic books, which as we learn can be a quite lurid one indeed, filled with mayhem on the page and off.
Underneath this utterly compelling Glen Orbik cover, we find a story about one Dr.Werner Frederick, a crusader against comic books who bears a striking similarity to a historical cultural figure of note. Boiling out of this hysterical melee there is murder and Jack Starr is called upon to uncover the truth.
One of the clever things about how Collins puts these books together is that he gets his longtime creative partner Terry Beatty to illustrate them. Here we see an excellent example of Beatty's clean and effective and attractive style, evoking more than a whisper of Johnny Craig here.
Seduction of the Innocent is the third Jack Starr mystery. The first, titled A Killing in Comics is concerned with a murder around the ownership of a most successful and oddly familiar superhero.
The second volume titled Strip for Murder concerns the murderous feud between two of the most successful and famous comic strip artists, a feud inspired by real people and strangely real events.
The fusion of pulp mystery fiction and comics is nothing new for the Collins and Beatty team. Early in the Hard Case Crime series run, they brought out Deadly Beloved, a novel developed from their own long-running comic book series Ms.Tree.
Collins has become one of the great pulp writers of his generation, and when teamed with Terry Beatty both seem to bring out the best in one another. There is a charm and wit which seems to exude from their work, making it irresistible fun. Seduction of the innocent indeed.