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REVIEW: Bury the Lede Is a Compelling But Undercooked Crime Story

Bury the Lede
Story by
Art by
Claire Roe
Colors by
Miquel Muerto
Publisher
BOOM! Studios

Bury the Lede, hitting the direct market on October 2 before the general book market on October 8, is the first graphic novel written by Gaby Dunn, as well as the first in a new line of "Mature Readers" books from Boom! Studios. Claire Roe (Batgirl and the Birds of Prey) and Miquel Muerto (The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance) collaborated on the art.

Dunn is a bestselling author, podcaster, actress and comedian, but originally her career path was in journalism, and she worked as a reporter for The Boston Globe in her sophomore year at Emerson College. It's this experience which informs Bury the Lede, the story of "Boston Lede" intern Madison Jackson, whose search for the scoop on a double homicide ends up uncovering a massive city-wide conspiracy.

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It is unclear just how much of the story is taken from Dunn's real-life experiences and how much is pure fiction. In any case, it probably wouldn't be accurate to describe the book as a "true crime" story, but it is aiming to appeal to fans of the genre. It's certainly lurid and gruesome enough to make for a compelling page-turner. Once you put the book down, though, that intrigue doesn't add up to full gratification.

Bury the Lede is trying to do a lot. With its cast of mostly queer characters, it captures some of the "be gay, do crimes" serial killer eroticism that's helped make Killing Eve such a smash hit. This framework, with Madison finding herself more and more enticed by murder suspect Dahlia Kennedy, serves to examine more general questions about the line between good and evil. The emphasis on the significance of journalistic work in unmasking hidden systemic abuse throughout Boston is reminiscent of the 2015 Best Picture winner, Spotlight.

The biggest flaw of Bury the Lead is that, at just 128 pages, it's too short to really deal with all of these different themes to satisfaction. When Madison crosses a certain moral boundary in the pursuit of the truth, it doesn't feel like the repercussions of this line-crossing get fully dealt with. It's just treated as a standard plot point, something that happens just because this sort of thing happens in these types of "questioning the line between good and evil" crime stories without having the time to do the full work of that questioning.

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Without going into spoilers, it's also particularly disappointing that the conspiracy itself is mainly just tossed off as another plot point rather than delved deeper into. It's interesting and horrifying enough that it makes you want to know more about how it's affected those involved, but because of the brief nature of the book, most of the focus it recieves is just on how breaking the story affects Madison's career. This is also a topic which might leave readers especially curious for clarification as to how much is drawn from true stories and how much is fictionalized.

Roe's illustrations and Muerto's dark coloring carry the intense atmosphere of Bury the Lede well. As for Dunn's writing, she probably has the potential to write a great graphic novel in the future, but hopefully, next time she gets the opportunity, she's able to let her story breathe more.

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