Bento Review: Troublemaker

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Janet Evanovich is a best-selling mystery writer known for her novels.

So, imagine my surprise to seeing her name on a graphic novel in my monthly Bento Box…

Janet didn’t write this one alone, as it turns out.  Her daughter Alex has a co-writer credit.

Now, I’ve never actually read any of Evanovich’s novels, so how was this one?

Rather underwhelming, truth be told.  While the cover of Troublemaker proclaims this as “Book One:  A Barnaby And Hooker Graphic Novel”…it’s actually the third book in the Barnaby and Hooker series.  Alex Barnaby is a mechanic for NASCAR driver Sam Hooker.  They date.  They have a big St. Bernard named Beans, and the two of them get sucked into the disappearance of their friend Rosa in Miami.

That’s not a bad hook, but the book treats the characters as if readers like myself should already know who they are.  Even with the short intros of the major characters, there seems to be background info I wasn’t getting, like who the heck Rosa is and why I or Barnaby and Hooker should care that she’s missing.

Combine that with choppy dialogue.  Hooker, during a trip to check out some clues, starts discussing out of the blue how he think the two of them will be together for a long time.  Nothing of the sort was brought up before that, and it didn’t seem to make a lot of sense.

Maybe its because Evanovich is more used to longer form writing, or was just counting on the reader knowing who these two are, but I was baffled and that ain’t good.

As it was, the mystery didn’t seem particularly rough to solve, and Joelle Jones’ artwork was neither terrible nor impressive.  The whole thing seemed by-the-numbers.  There’s some decent humor in there, much of it involving Hooker’s mother, but even though the book ends with the mystery maybe half-solved, I didn’t see the need to continue as I did with Rai.

I do appreciate that Dark Horse selections in the Bento Box are often more outside-the-norm for whatever I get, but this one didn’t do much for me.  Let’s say four exploding voodoo dolls out of ten.

NEXT:  A rather thick Aspen Comics book about a character named Lola is next.  All I know is she dresses like a stereotypical bad girl and is living in a post-apocalyptic world.  I’ve never read an Aspen Comic, so this could be…interesting.

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