Friday, February 25, 2022

Book Review: Secret Identity

It’s 1975 and the comic book industry is struggling, but Carmen Valdez doesn’t care. She’s an assistant at Triumph Comics, which doesn’t have the creative zeal of Marvel nor the buttoned-up efficiency of DC, but it doesn’t matter. Carmen is tantalizingly close to fulfilling her dream of writing a superhero book.

That dream is nearly a reality when one of the Triumph writers enlists her help to create a new character, which they call “The Lethal Lynx,” Triumph's first female hero. But her colleague is acting strangely and asking to keep her involvement a secret. And then he’s found dead, with all of their scripts turned into the publisher without her name. Carmen is desperate to piece together what happened to him, to hang on to her piece of the Lynx, which turns out to be a runaway hit. But that’s complicated by a surprise visitor from her home in Miami, a tenacious cop who is piecing everything together too quickly for Carmen, and the tangled web of secrets and resentments among the passionate eccentrics who write comics for a living.

Author Alex Segura, no stranger to the comicbook world, is the creative force behind this novel that makes it debut on March 15, 2022. The publisher Flatiron Books granted me an early look in exchange for an honest review. And, I can tell you, I really enjoyed this one.

As a child of the 70's and a lifelong comic reader, this story connected with me on many levels. From the feel of the industry in the 1970's to the various references to DC, Marvel and more (some of which might be a bit too "inside baseball" for non-comic fans) to the moments and places in New York City (a place I always wanted to live as I was growing up), this book kept me engaged the entire time. I found myself completely entrenched into Carmen's world and desperately trying to piece together the mystery as she was also doing so. I also liked the added bonus of pages created for The Lethal Lynx comic book that are sprinkled throughout; they really tie-in nicely to the plot of Carmen's story and give the whole package an extra punch that just straight prose cannot.

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