Ayo Onatade is an avid reader of crime and mystery fiction. She has been writing reviews, interviews and articles on the subject for the last 12 years; with an eclectic taste from historical to hardboiled, short stories and noir films
I am not sure why I had never heard of Dr Frederic Werner before reading Seduction of the Innocent but because of this book I have managed to track down his book also entitled Seduction of the Innocent solely to read up on the background history of this fascinating novel. As far as Dr Werner was concerned, comics were violent, a blight on the landscape and should be done away with as they had a corrupting influence especially on young children. As a result of his anti-comic crusade, the Comic Code was introduced.
In Max Allan Collins’s version, which is set in 1954, Seduction of the Innocent is the third book in the series featuring Maggie and Jack Starr as they challenge what they see is the unwarranted battle being lodged against comics by the German-American psychiatrist Dr Werner. His book is just about to be published and in an attempt to rein in his influence, they persuade Dr Werner to write a regular column for their newspaper. However, what should have been a shrewd move backfires when the doctor is found dead by Jack Starr. Whilst many in the industry stood to profit from his death the real problem was trying to work out which one of the many suspects actually killed the doctor.
Whilst it does take sometime for the mystery to bed in, Seduction of the Innocent is in fact an engaging read. Collins has managed to blend fact and fiction together quite smoothly. There is a long list of suspects and as one has come to expect from Collins he has taken time to set up all the key individuals and list of probable suspects. The bonus is also the well-drawn graphics that are at the start of each chapter. They add a certain flair and touch to the story as well. He has also cunningly managed at the same time to play homage to those wonderful unforgettable pulp novels. The cover is no pushover either!
Whilst the third book to feature Maggie and Jack Starr, Seduction of the Innocent works equally well as a standalone novel. The sense of place, characterisation and storyline work extremely well together and the reader does get the impression that they are in the midst of that golden age of comics.
Seduction of the Innocent is a well-written classic sexy pulp novel that should be read even if it is just to get the low down on what was happening to comics during that era. A truly brilliant read.