Who’s the really dummy in this murder mystery?
A Dummy’s Guide to Danger falls somewhere between cliched mystery and fantastic psychological thriller but I’m not too sure where. It’s difficult to figure out who is the more interesting of the two main characters. Investigator Alan Sirios appears to be a real manly man; buff, tough and willing to dive into action. He barely even lets anything as paltry as an ear getting sliced off distract him from the job. His partner Mr. Bloomberg, a ventriloquist dummy, has to be carted around by Sirios because Bloomberg is paraplegic after being shot in the back while the partners were working a case. Take a minute to think about that: Bloomberg is a paraplegic ventriloquist dummy and he may not even be the more interesting character in the book.
There’s a whole other story going on in this book other than the one that Jason M. Burns is presenting. In A Dummy’s Guide to Danger, the two PIs are drawn into a serial murder case, as celebrities are killed and parts of their bodies are removed before the police arrive. The grisly murders provide a showy plot as Sirios and Bloomberg spring into action like all good private investigators do; they come into conflict with the police, they get beaten up, they fall in love with the girl, and they discover their ties to the serial killer. Those plot points are all fine and good but they’re not what’s really interesting about the book.
Let me repeat: a paraplegic ventriloquist dummy.
That may be just a bit more interesting than a serial killer.
Beneath the surface of the serial killer story, there’s the deep story of Alan Sirios and his dummy of a partner. Sirios clearly accepts Mr. Bloomberg and doesn’t question his reality while everyone else looks at them, wants to say something about their unique partnership but decides not. Why? What happened that people refuse to question a man who believes his ventriloquist dummy is a private investigator? And what drives a man like Sirios to this situation?
It’s that subtext which moves this book along because in the last half, the main story begins to fall into place a bit too easily and conveniently. The resolution to the murder mystery makes sense but only peripherally ties into anything that has been established in the story. It feels like it ends because Burns and his artist Ron Chan ran out of room and needed to end it without giving any more attention or suitable closure to the subtext.
A Dummy’s Guide to Danger is first and foremost a fun read. Burn and Chan have crafted an enjoyable story full of intrigue, humor and darkness. The book easily invites the reader into the world of Sirios and Bloomberg. The book falls apart a bit at the end but journey is still an enjoyable one.
A Dummy’s Guide to Danger
Written by: Jason M. Burns
Drawn by: Ron Chan