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Literature / Batman: Murder at Wayne Manor

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Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.

Batman: Murder at Wayne Manor is a 2008 work of interactive mystery based in the Batman franchise. It is written by Duane Swierczynski, a veteran of crime fiction who has written for both Marvel Comics and DC Comics.

A construction crew on the grounds of Wayne Manor discovers a skeleton dressed in a women's party mask of a bygone era, along with an invitation to a gala ball that was once held by Thomas and Martha Wayne. On the back of the invitation is scrawled "IF I CAN'T HAVE YOU" in the handwriting of a lunatic. The papers are quick to jump to the conclusion that Thomas Wayne had gotten away with murder, but Bruce is not so sure. Following a trail of clues, he seeks the identity of the deceased and her murderer, but he is held up by the emergence of a villain known as the Black Mask.

The book is written as a first-person retrospective of Bruce as he looks back on an early portion of his crime-fighting career, when he still had much to learn. However, the reader also takes on the role of detective when various pieces of evidence - including the aforementioned invitation - are included with the book, giving a sense of material realism to the case. The solution to the crime is sealed in the back of the book, and the reader is encouraged to attempt to solve the case themselves before opening and learning the truth.


This work contains examples of:

  • Batman Cold Open: The book opens on an earlier case in which Batman is stalking a sniper. He fails to stop the sniper, but spooks him enough that no one dies that night. This recollection sets the stage for what kind of Batman we're dealing with: he's highly skilled, but not experienced.
  • The Cowl: The opening lines of the book are a description of the function of Batman's mask. Most of all, "My mask is meant to scare."
  • Fake Defector: Bruce pretends to be Roman Sionis' lawyer when he visits an old servant of the Sionis family.
  • Feelies: Various pieces of evidence are included, including an invitation, photograph, newspaper, drink coaster, Gotham PD autopsy report, and more.
  • Mythology Gag: See Stealth Hi/Bye
    • The image of Roman Sionis in Arkham Asylum has several mainstream Batman villains that otherwise never appear in the story, including The Joker.
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    • The closing scene is of Bruce visiting the site of his parents' death once again.
  • Spice Rack Panacea: Alfred is a proponent of this, suggesting chicken soup when Bruce requests painkillers.
    No one knows this fact about Alfred Pennyworth: he's a sadist.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Let's face it, Batman is the master of this in ANY media, and it's almost always Gordon on the receiving end.
    Gordon jolted, dropped his car keys, then cursed. "I hate when you do that."

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