A police detective attempts to deconstruct the ruined mind of a mass murderer. Maybe.
So when is a crime novel not a crime novel? When it’s really a horror story by experimentalist Butler (Sky Saw, 2012, etc.), who here composes a novel that should appeal to people who thought Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves was a nice, straightforward read. The first of five sections purports to be the diary of one Gretch Gravey, who has been booked for the murder of more than 400 victims, some of whom were ingested, some mutilated to create an arcane altar in Gravey’s home. Lots of this: “Blood helicopters chopped across my slim cerebrum like fresh diamonds, rings in screaming on small hands coming awake inside my linings, each after its own way to reach beyond me.” In the margins, a disturbed police detective named E.N. Flood writes his own interpretations and notes about Gravey’s rambling manifesto, continuing his investigation in the second section. As a supervisor and a police psychologist make other notes on Flood’s notes, doubt begins to emerge about whether Flood or Gravey even exist at all. Flood’s notes indicate that Gravey is possessed by some kind of evil entity called “Darrel” who desires a sacrifice to some imaginary kingdom called “Sod.” This all falls apart in the novel’s midsection, and we start to simply get explicit passages about a phenomenon of mass murder across America and the disintegration of Flood’s fragile psyche, with entries like this: “FLOOD: My body full of spit and blood. My mind full of holes leading to rooms full of the dead. Through the surfaces conferred their final concentration in the film containing all other film, upon which there is no rewind, no eject. A world awaiting.” It’s disturbing because it’s meant to be, but whether readers will enjoy it depends on their tolerance for Butler’s eclectic style and the novel's profane depictions.
A graphic horror story that aspires to repel its readers.