cover image Creepy Crawly Crime

Creepy Crawly Crime

Aaron Reynolds, , illus. by Neil Numberman. . Holt, $16.95 (96pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-8786-4

In this first installment of the Joey Fly, Private Eye series, Reynolds (Buffalo Wings ) and Numberman, who makes a wowser of a debut, marry the film noir spoof to the graphic novel, and the result has the sweet smell of success written all over it. The mystery takes readers to the big insect city, where most of the inhabitants are “normal everyday bugs just trying to put three feet in front of the others.” But there are always a few rotten arthropods in the barrel, and keeping them in line is Joey Fly, a detective with a fedora, a sense of justice masquerading as cynicism, a flair for similes and really, really big eyes. Joey, clearly an adult, is given a sidekick, an impetuous but eager scorpion named Sammy Stingtail. The crime does get solved—it involves a stolen diamond pencil box—but like the best noirs, the particulars take a backseat to the irresistible interplay of moody visuals (Numberman wryly replicates the chiaroscuro mis-en-scène of Depression-era cinema) and hard-boiled patois (“The facts were starting to line up like centipedes at a shoe sale”). Ages 8–up. (Apr.)