John Arcudi’s Closed Room Mystery Is Collected In Dead Inside Volume 1

by Brendan M. Allen

Linda Caruso’s job is usually ridiculously simple. As an investigator in Mariposa County’s Jail Crimes Division, her cases aren’t very complicated. She deals with a limited pool of suspects with limited mobility and limited resources. That unfortunately also means she’s fairly bored out of her gourd. Caruso ended up in jail crimes after sitting for and failing her detective’s examination as a deputy. Typically, a failed board would be a one-way ticket back to the beat, but Caruso was railroaded into Jail Crimes instead.

John Arcudi serves up a familiar feeling backstory of a broken down detective in a dead end position. A recent divorcée, Caruso’s stuck in a cycle of alcohol and depression. She’s completely lost in the office, having no clue how to maneuver office politics. Caruso’s far from perfect. She’s broken in ways that many readers can relate to.
When Caruso receives orders to investigate a murder/suicide at Bennett Penitentiary, it doesn’t take her long to realize this case is different. In a very short period, she’s neatly served up more than enough evidence to close the case. Something about the case is off and it niggles at the back of her head. Caruso feels like she’s being directed around, and isn’t being given more than a cursory look at key evidence. Any time she tries to dig a little deeper, she runs into solid bureaucratic walls.
Toni Fejzula’s hand is evident in the artwork. Rough, heavy lines and deep textures keep the reader slightly unsettled from the first page to the last. Andre May’s color choices tie the script to the art beautifully. May shows great restraint with a muted palette, except in scenes where violence is shown. Bright red blood jumps right out against backgrounds of dull brown and grey to shocking effect.

This is a great book for fans of crime procedurals, detective stories, noir, mystery, and prison drama. If CSI and Wentworth had a baby, who was raised by Columbo, the poor thing would look just like Dead Inside.
The Trade Paperback is 160 color pages, collecting the whole Dead Inside story, issues #1-#5. There are more than 30 pages of extras, including Toni Fejzula’s sketchbook and a pinup gallery. Dead inside boasts a script by John Arcudi, art by Toni Fejzula, letters by Joe Sabino, and color by Andre May.
Dead Inside is published by Dark Horse and is currently available in shops as of August 17th, 2017.

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