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Smallville: Whodunnit

Smallville: Whodunnit

Writer: Dean Wesley Smith
Cover Design: Don Puckey
Book Design: L&G McRee

Published by: Aspect and Warner Books (March 2003)

Reviewed by: Aaron Thall

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Lionel Luthor is kidnapped in an audacious daytime attack that leaves his security people and innocent bystanders injured. His disappearance forces Lex to go to Metropolis, where, as he attempts to keep the company stock from plummeting, he resolves to find his father, no matter the cost.

But this time, Lex is on his own, for back in Smallville, Clark, along with Chloe and Lana, have stumbled upon a gruesome quadruple murder... An entire family murdered, the patriarch vanished.

With the authorities seemingly useless in both mysteries, the people closest to these crimes will have to investigate on their own.

But things take a disturbing turn when Chloe begins to suspect that the two cases are related...

4Story - 4: I love mysteries. I point this out now. Sherlock Holmes, Kindaichi Case Files, Case Closed... These things speak to me. I enjoy the mental challenge of uncovering the truth behind the deeds. So more than the other novels, this one got the look from my critical eye.

And for the most part, it passed with flying colors.

Chloe's one woman investigation into the murder of a friend she felt she failed is gripping. We see moments of greatness coming from her. She's almost Lois Lane at times (minus the need to be rescued, avoiding a cliche). And it works. For once, she's not looking for a meteor freak, or a bizarre situation. She's looking into the core of human cruelty, and it resonates on a far deeper level than the usual Smallville schick.

At the same time, Lex proves to be quite the detective. In the vein of the Shadow, he sits in the middle of a vast information gathering web and lets the subordinates and friends ferret out the clues for him, allowing him to see and know all immediately. Adding to the urgency of his mission is, of course, his own desire to not see his inevitable victory over Lionel stolen by strangers.

Clark is used to good effect as well. Aside from the end, his powers are used almost exclusively for investigation. Aside from super speed, the only power he really uses in the novel is his X-Ray and telescopicvision, which leads him to vital clues at critical moments.

And if you think Neal Bailey's a bit harsh on Lana in his Smallville reviews, I point out that, upon finding a body, she's too stupid to think to call the police. Clark and Chloe practically have to scream the obvious to her. It was rather amusing.

Really, this novel would be a five, except the Lex and Lionel plot doesn't really get closure. Of course, Lionel gets rescued, but we don't get to read about the emotional payoff, if his father would be proud or disappointed. By the same token, the missing man is never allowed the chance to fully resolve his story.

Still, overall, Whodunnit is a great, suspenseful mystery that I heartily recommend. A pleasant surprise from the Smallville series.

5Cover Art - 5: ...GASP! It... IT CAN'T BE! It's a cover that... ACTUALLY REPRESENTS WHAT HAPPENS IN THE BOOK. Lex, looking like he's in P.I. mode, with a flashlight, in the middle of nowhere. It mostly HAPPENS. This has to be a mistake of some kind. It's supposed to be a random picture that has no bearing on the story. Why, people might start to think that the cover designer was TRYING for a change, and we know that would NEVER happen.

Ten bucks says the next novel cover is back to form.

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