cover image The Ghost in You: A Reckless Book

The Ghost in You: A Reckless Book

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Image, $24.99 (144p) ISBN 978-1-5343-2208-0

Brubaker and Phillips’s Reckless series takes a detour in this spookier and less violent but still exciting L.A. noir. It’s 1989, and gloomy gumshoe Ethan is away on a job in San Francisco, having left purple-haired punk assistant Anna running the El Ricardo—part shabby-cool movie house (showing Kurosawa, Lynch, and spaghetti westerns), part headquarters for their off-the-books detective business. Anna takes the job when an aging fatale walks in: Lorna Valentine, once the B-movie scream queen “Evilina,” who believes the Hollywood Hills mansion she inherited from a stalker superfan is haunted. Just after Anna starts investigating the dark résumé of this “murder house,”she is knocked off course (just as Ethan typically is), this time by a suspicious cop and her flighty mother, a recovering alcoholic. Following form for the genre (some chapters are named after classic mystery films), the story starts in darkness and danger (Anna stabbed and bleeding out in the mansion) before dredging up dirty secrets that illuminate the city’s shabby history. Though this arc doesn’t quite evoke the shadow of rugged doom cast in Ethan’s stories, Anna’s tough but idealistic cynicism brings a sharper energy to this superb series. (Apr.)