Edwin Paine was murdered at his boarding school in 1916, after which he went to Hell, where he was stalked by an unseen menace through a long corridor for several decades. Eventually, Hell was emptied of its residents, and as a result of this, the boarding school was overrun by the souls of its past teachers and pupils who had escaped Hell. Charles Rowland was the sole living student at the school during these events, as all the other students had gone home for the holidays. A few of the teachers who stayed behind were supervising him, but one by one they fell victim to various horrors. Paine aided Rowland in avoiding most of the dangers, such as a murderous gang of students. Ultimately, however, Rowland did not survive. He next appeared as a ghost and decided to forego going to the afterlife with Death in preference for prospective future adventures with Paine.
Later, it was revealed that the ghosts have been studying the school's library books and films (mostly children's adventure fiction) in the hopes of learning how to become detectives. In their first case, they are hired by a young girl to discover what happened to the children of a small British town called Flaxdown who have all disappeared. They were briefly seen tracking down the magician Tim Hunter while he was hiding out at one of the Inns Between the Worlds, but they were captured and supposedly returned to Death's domain by a coachman - although the coachman actually promised to allow them to escape as he wouldn't force any spirit to return to death against its will.
In another adventure, the two ghosts investigated the mystery of why and how numerous corpses of homeless children began washing up on the shores of the Thames.
Later, the pair would travel to the United States to investigate the disappearance of a student at an all girls boarding school. In order to properly go undercover at the school, the boys go in drag.
- 19 Appearances of Dead Boy Detectives (Vertigo Universe)
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