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Stumptown vol. 3: The Case of the King of Clubs

December 30, 2015

Once again, this review of latest volume of Greg Rucka’s private investigator in Portland series is brought to you courtesy of a 30%-off coupon from Amazon (in addition to the discount already offered by the site).  I think this is a good series.  It’s just not good enough to get me to pay the full $30 to pick each volume up in hardcover.  Vol. 3 is probably the least impressive of the series so far, but that’s also like saying “The Dark Knight Rises” is the least impressive of Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” movies.  The case this time around has Portland P.I. Dex Parios investigating the savage beating a friend of hers received after a soccer match featuring the local team.  Between her own personal stake in this incident, and the fear of European-style soccer hooliganism tainting the sport as well as her own mental issues, Dex is coming apart at the seams on this one.  This time around, she has a fellow P.I., CK from Seattle, working the case with her and to help keep the collateral damage from their investigation to a minimum.

What keeps this volume from being on par with the other two is that the cops turn out to be more on the ball than usual in these kinds of stories.  In just about every P.I. story, the cops are there to either provide information or obstruct the protagonist in the pursuit of their case.  All I’ll say is that this isn’t the case this time around, leading to things feeling a bit anti-climactic in the end.  Granted, we do get a scene towards the end where Dex lets us know what really went on, but it mainly feels like Rucka is just doing damage control here.

That being said, we get more insight into Dex’s mindset and history here, while also seeing her strike up a relationship with a soccer player that doesn’t seem like a complete mistake.  The rapport Rucka sets up between the two P.I.s is also fun to watch, with CK offering both cutting humor and insight into her partner’s condition.  This is Dex’s series, but I wouldn’t mind seeing more of CK in future stories.  Vol. 3 also features art from “The Fuse’s” Justin Greenwood and his style fits the grounded tone of this series quite well.  So yeah, this volume is still a good read overall.  It’s just that your enjoyment will likely hinge on how much you had to pay for reading about Dex’s latest adventure.

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