A deeply disturbing psychological thriller that takes readers on a ride inside the mind of a serial killer.
When we think of fictional serial killers, pop-culture icons like The Joker and Jigsaw spring to mind. These caricatures, however, with their stylized appearances and almost glamorous personalities, don’t present a realistic picture of a serial killer. Neary’s (Breach of Sanity, 2012) second novel doesn’t have this problem. Her unflinching work peels back the flesh behind a modern serial killer, detailing his methods and his motives. The story focuses on Ellen Smith, a recently widowed psychiatrist who interviewed Roger Taut, a murderer several times over, who was put behind bars more than a decade ago. When this “charming sociopath” with the “pity-me persona” returns to the small town he’d previously terrorized, however, he’s not just looking for revenge: He’s aiming to build a gory legacy. And he’s planning to use Ellen to help him go on an unforgettable rampage. One of the novel’s strengths is that it doesn’t sugarcoat the grizzly mess behind Taut’s madness. Victims are murdered in vividly gruesome detail, and when readers are finally let into Taut’s psyche, the portrait becomes even more haunting. Though some secondary characters are flat, the villain seems almost too lifelike. He worms inside readers’ minds, lingering even after the novel’s breathless conclusion. Thriller fans may find the spilled guts and graphic sexual scenes a little too intense, but horror readers will appreciate that the author doesn’t stint on the specifics.
A memorable blood-and-guts tale with well-developed characters and a highly emotional payoff.