Tag Archives: serial killers

Reviews: Killing His Fear

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As usual I received this book for free at the hands of the generous author. Also as usual, despite that great kindness, I give my candid opinions below.

On the positive side, the author has a keen grasp of psychopathic behavior and understands well the inner workings of the mind of someone suffering from schizophrenia. The narrative is also reasonably interesting and has a circumspect style told from the viewpoint of both the killer and the police who pursue him.

Sadly, the negatives far outweigh the positives of the storyline. At the simplest level, the grammar and typography is in need of a good, sound editing. Punctuation is misplaced, words are misspelled or misused, and most amusing of all there are two chapter 39s. The whole thing just seems rather slap-dash and it completely ruins the effect of story. Further, the dialog is unrealistic and childlike as characters go through stiff and unrealistic interactions with each other that just don’t sound like natural verbal discourse at all. The author seems to go through phases in which he will use a particular word (one jarring example was the word ‘gonna’ as a form of ‘going to’) 7 times in the space of one and a half pages and then never uses it again in the entire rest of the book. In another case he seems to decide that contractions are bad and just stops using them for several chapters resulting in almost robotic dialog.

In summary, the author knows his subject matter but his mode of connecting the pieces is just a shambles. His strength is portraying the mind of the mentally deranged but anything outside that realm just turns to improbable plot points that come to conclusions that are far too easy and predictable. At the heart of this novel there’s a real talent but it’s buried under rather a dark and murky bushel.

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To Probe a Beating Heart: The Fall of a Serial Killer by John B. Wren

To Probe a Beating Heart: The Fall of a Serial KillerTo Probe a Beating Heart: The Fall of a Serial Killer by John B. Wren

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As usual I didn’t pay for this book, it came to me from the author who was kind enough to send me a copy for review. Despite that kind consideration, I’ll give my candid thoughts on the novel.

This is the story of a serial killer, from the first moments of his conception to his own grisly end. As story concepts go, this is a grand one. The author has cracked quite a meaty nut and one that is sure to entertain. If you’ve ever wondered how someone could be so depraved… here’s your answer.

On the negative side, while the story arc is appealing, the execution of it is profoundly lacking. The author has a very choppy and simplified writing style that reminds me strongly of Dick-and-Jane first readers. The author is certainly factual enough but just lacks writing flair and polish.

In summary, a great story but jot not very professional in the telling. I’m hopeful that future novels will acquire a more literary feel.

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Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman

Rage Against the DyingRage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

On a slight variation on my seemingly unstoppable opening jibber, I did NOT receive this book as part of a GoodReads drawing. However, my delightfully erudite fiancée DID receive it in a drawing and was kind enough to pass it along to me for afters. Despite the generously kind consideration of both my fiancée and the publisher, I give my solemnly sworn opinion below.

To sum up the story without diluting any edge of mystery, our protagonist is a retired FBI agent who never quite caught her man. What should have been the pinnacle of her career ended with rather a whimper a few years ago and as the book begins she finds herself once again ensnared in the case that didn’t quite close.

From the very, very beginning, Masterman takes her readers by the frontal lobe and hurls them at break-neck pace through a uniquely suspenseful story line. The real hook of the story is set within the first eight pages and after that one is exceptionally disinclined to put the book down for any reason. Our author renders her characters with great skill that invokes disgust, pity and hatred with just a few words. For a debut novel this one shines quite brightly.

In addition to the skill with which the characters are rendered, the story just has a very real feel to it. With many first novels there are times at which credibility hits a brick wall but not so in ‘Rage Against the Dying’ as one could very believably read this same story in a newspaper. Masterman paints a picture that is at once horrifying, graphic and creepily believable. One almost wants to buy a security system after reading it.

To summarize, I often judge a book by the pool of people to whom I would consider passing it next. Given the VERY dark and graphic nature of this book, that pool is fairly small. Anyone offended by vivid portrayals of pure human evil would be well advised to keep their distance. Contrarily, this is one of the few books I’ve read in the past couple years that made good material for reading while on the exercise bike. It’s gripping enough that a fairly substantial workout will vanish between its gory and primitive depths, a wonderful and gritty debut for a budding author. Brava!

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