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Let me be honest for a minute: I never would have read this book if not for my 2015 reading challenge, which stipulates that I must read a graphic novel. I’ve never read a graphic novel before, so this was an experience for me.

Most of this first volume is just setup: Charlie, a Hollywood film writer, goes to party one night. He wakes up the next morning having no recollection of the previous night, and to make matters worse, he finds the lead actress for his current film dead. Not wanting to be blamed for her murder, Charlie covers it up. Next thing he knows, the papers are calling it a suicide and he can’t even tell anyone what really happened.

The biggest thing for me with this story was the characters. They all look pretty similar – mostly middle-aged men in suits – and we don’t learn enough about them that they stand out for any other reason. The file was so huge that it froze my Nook several times, so I couldn’t keep flipping back and forth to the list of characters, either. I guess that was a little disappointing to me. I couldn’t keep track of who was friends, who was enemies, and what everybody’s role was because they were just too similar.

But what I did like was the setting. Brubaker and Phillips did a great job pulling me in to old Hollywood, with all its corruption and drama. If only the characters had been as well-developed as the backstory.

The only other thing I can say is that this volume ends in quite a cliffhanger. This first volume is a lot of background information and not a whole lot of action. Charlie complains a lot about what’s happened, but he doesn’t really do anything. We’re introduced to a lot of characters, but nothing actually happens aside from the initial murder. I can’t say that I’ll be coming back to find out what happens next, but I can see how the cliffhanger might draw someone back.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy!

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

For my 2015 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #40: a graphic novel.

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