Stumptown is like a really good television pilot for a private detective series. That’s not surprising, since author Greg Rucka is a fan of seventies-era detective shows like The Rockford Files and Magnum, P.I. The crime in Stumptown would fit nicely in one of these shows or in any time–the investigation into the disappearance of a young woman–but the players have been appropriately updated.
The wisecracking protagonist PI, Dex (short for Dexadrine) Parios, is a mess. She’s addicted to gambling, takes care of her mentally-challenged younger brother, and is apparently responsible for the demise of the top dog police detective’s marriage. Her friend Grey, who takes care of her brother when she’s out solving crimes, is smitten with Dex, and Dex is oblivious to this. (See, it’s like a pilot. You need to tune in next week if you want your questions answered.)
The Portland crime family behind the woman’s disappearance suffers from its own dysfunction, with a daughter and son who both hate and love their crime boss daddy, and ultimately just want his approval.
Matthew Southworth‘s art captures the grey, lush atmosphere of the Northwest and the gritty side of Portland, and he simply slays the finale, with flashlights illuminating the action on a dark night.
For me, Stumptown simply isn’t as good as Rucka’s Queen and Country series, but it works for what it is. If this really does turn into a series, it may call for further investigation.
By the way, Stumptown is a nickname for Portland, Oregon. Here’s why.