Review: Stumptown volume 2: The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case

Dex’s second mystery begins with a concert at the Crystal Ballroom. A homecoming show for a popular local band that’s made it big. After the show, the guitarist’s favorite guitar (the baby) goes missing. The guitarist, Miriam, goes to Dex because she doesn’t want to see her ex (a cop) at the police station.


It seems like a relatively straightforward case until a couple DEA agents show up, raising the stakes considerably. At the end of the second volume, the guitar is delivered anonymously to Dex’s home, but that doesn’t mean the mystery is solved.


Dex has multiple run-ins with a couple violent skinheads who are interested in missing drugs, which appear to have been inside the guitar case. One of these run-ins ends with Dex’s classic Mustang jumping across the Burnside Bridge when it’s lifted.


This scene is mirrored in the trailers I’ve seen, though the Fox body Mustang Dex drives in the show seems to fare better than her 1964 1/2 Mustang did in the book.


The mystery takes some satisfying twists and turns as Dex figures out who was responsible for the drugs and the DEA takes their suspects. And it ends with the resurfacing of crimelord Hector Marenco, who hasn’t forgotten Dex. I look forward to seeing how he’s involved in future stories — and what torture he puts Dex through.

I LOVED that the Crystal Ballroom featured prominently in the opening scene. I love seeing shows there. I just saw one there this summer, in fact, L7. It’s a small detail, but it is one of the details that makes Portland a character, not just a setting.

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