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Spotlight on: Something to Build Upon by Tim Broderick

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Something to Build Upon by Tim Broderick Tim Broderick, Something to Build Upon (Odd Jobs #2)

David Diangelo works for the Stratons, a couple of high-powered lawyers trying keep their careers going and build a new house and have a baby after two miscarriages. Diangelo's job is to oversee the house-building so that Mrs. Straton can concentrate on the baby-building. But when Mr. Straton falls to his death inside the new house's foundation, Diangelo unwittingly becomes an ad hoc private eye.

Something to Build Upon is actually the second in Tim Broderick's Odd Jobs series. The first entry, Lost Child, can be read for free by following that link to the Modern Tales website. Part three, Cash and Carry, will be available from Echelon Press in 2008, and part four, Children of the Revolution is still running on the Web at this writing. Other related stories can also be found using links from TimBroderick.net.

Broderick adds a new layer to the crime-fiction genre with Something to Build Upon, a cleverly plotted graphic novel from Twilight Tales. His story takes a while to play itself out, relatively speaking, but the book as a whole is a very quick read — two hours at the outside, much like reading a movie.

Managing to even include the expected "voice over" narration in this graphic story, Broderick hews closely to the noir trappings usually limited to dark, wet city streets, while setting his tale firmly in suburbia. But even suburbanites will resort to murder when love or money are on the line, as we soon see.

Sharp lines make for unattractive characters, but the population of Something to Build Upon is like nothing you've ever seen. Broderick somehow has managed to create over half a dozen fully-realized human beings to people his work. From the crusty Lieutenant Meranski to Diangelo's neighbor on whom he has a crush (whether she realizes this is up for debate), each character has something new to offer the story.

A couple of implausible revelations mar the proceedings somewhat, but the characters are all so flawed in their various ways that the identity of the murderer was a surprise, as were the events that followed. Something to Build Upon offers such a high-quality read for the money that I think I may need to go back and reread it again to pick up on some things I surely missed the first time around.

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