HELL’S KITCHEN by Chris Niles


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Socially challenged 30-something Cyrus Frederick Tower, a bit withdrawn, a bit nerdy, a bit down on himself, and more than a bit impressionable, one day encounters by chance The Book, an ordinary-looking paperback that transforms his life. Climbing the Mountain of Myself, by tele-savant Dr. Chance M. Finkelziz, transmogrifies Cyrus into something he never imagined he could be: a serial killer. Having climbed the mountain of himself, Cyrus discovers that he’s perfectly suited to butchery and that his spacious New York apartment makes an ideal abattoir. The first unfortunates to respond to his Village Voice classified are the Neidermeyers, young marrieds newly arrived from Michigan and hungry for a sublet. Cyrus hacks them up. A pretty blond exchange student named Anna follows in short order, and now Cyrus, invested with a sense of mission, can see his way clear to becoming Jack the Ripper of Lower Manhattan. But life is full of unforeseeable accidents and spoilsports. There’s the untrustworthy beauty who captures Cyrus’s heart. There’s the would-be writer who has fallen in love with Cyrus’s Lorelei. There’s the fatuous painter, the slightly over-the-hill reporter, and her lesbian partner. And they all wind up more or less at once in Cyrus’s apartment for a climactic scene in which Cyrus is hoist by his own petard and razor blade.

Niles (Crossing Live, not reviewed, etc.) is a dab hand at black comedy, and some very funny stuff goes on here. Be warned, though: All the slicing and dicing might be an affront to certain sensibilities.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 1-888451-21-1
Page count: 279pp
Publisher: Akashic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2001