Fabian Nicieza returns to that bastion of crime and corruption, West Windsor, NJ, in The Self-Made Widow, the riotous follow-up to the chart-topping, guilty pleasure, Suburban Dicks. Coupling Jersey-style sarcasm with floor-to-ceiling expletives, Widow is the fun return of housemom/profiler Andie Stern who finds herself drawn into yet another murder-mystery, this one definitely closer-to-home than she would have liked. Yet for all its quick wit and razor-sharp dialogue, The Self-Made Widow feels like a story that should have come later if this were to be a series. The inter-relational dynamics were too deep; the mystery too aloof.
The Self-Made Widow finds Andie Stern called in to help her friend, Molly Goode, after Molly’s husband is found dead. A weak ticker is the culprit. Yet both Andie and intrepid, if miserable, reporter Kenny Lee feel their spider-sense go off. Something is not kosher with Molly. Is she a suffering widow? Or is she public enemy number one?
Title: The Self-Made Widow (2022) Author: Fabian Nicieza Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Book jacket: From the co-creator of Deadpool and author of Suburban Dicks comes a diabolically funny murder mystery that features two unlikely sleuths investigating a murder that reveals the dark underbelly of suburban marriage. Joe says: The Self-Made Widow perfectly fits the Jersey crime subgenre with its quick wit and razor-sharp dialogue. For a sequel, the inter-relational dynamics are too deep; the mystery too aloof; the pace too lethargic for what should be a rock ‘em-sock ‘em murder-mystery.
Nicieza has always been a master of dialogue even since his time with Marvel (go read his run on The New Warriors! Do it!). The style he established with Suburban Dicks seamlessly follows through here. What Widow lacks, however, is that strong mystery that not only ensnares the characters but lures in the reader. A good third of the book is all set up, catch-up, and development. Although this is certainly good for the new reader, the pace becomes lethargic for what should be a rock ‘em-sock ‘em murder-mystery.
When the pace finally does pick up, Nicieza unleashes both barrels of back-stabbing fun and hardcore neo-noir. He presents conflict with Andie who is fed up with the Jersey-girl image, a low-mileage minivan, and sacrificed career. He clues non-Jerseyites on how I-295 really flows, our annoyance-with-yet-addiction-to Wegmans, and why self-pump gas stations are not necessarily the best. And he has zero problems with altering the status quo on any and all characters.
The Self-Made Widow perfectly fits the Jersey crime subgenre that Nicieza is incredibly adept at portraying. The characters are real, and familiar, and annoying. As a sequel, the set-up is longer than the Free Fall queue at Great Adventure but the payout is as genuine as getting a third encore from Bruce.
Thanks to G.P. Putnam’s Sons for the invite. Looking forward to what Fabe has lined up next.