I just finished a bunch of serial-killer books, but I am not finished with my serial-killer book-reading spree. I need to do more.
Here is what I’ve read over the past, I dunno, three weeks:
First I read Scream for Me, because I bought it used for 50 cents, not realizing that it was a sequel. It was okay to read on its own, but there was so much complicated background information that I knew something else must have come before it, so I ended up checking out the other two books in the series because I had to know the whole story. Guess what. It wasn’t any less complicated when I read the first one. I will say this much about Karen Rose: she writes very complicated books. Intriguing, yes. Impressively complicated, even. Just thinking about plotting one of these books gave me a headache. Fortunately, I do not read these books for the sake of thinking. Each book has a different hero and heroine, but their stories are interconnected. And upon reflection, I don’t think I can tell you about any of the stories without giving myself a headache. Suffice it to say that there are psycho killers, and there are male cops trying to catch the psycho killers, and there are women who are not cops who are nevertheless caught up in this web of psycho-killing…stuff, and the cops and the women fall in love. I noted that Scream for Me had a label on its spine, “Romantic Thriller.” And the more I read of these books, that’s when it dawned on me: I’m reading serial-killer romance novels. I couldn’t decide if that was awesome or horrifying. Or horrifyingly awesome.
So how does a serial-killer romance novel differ from a regular romance novel? Like all romance novels, each of Rose’s books boasts a strong heroine with sexual hang-ups that need to be cured by a man with emotional hang-ups who is impossibly good in bed. The two keep secrets from each other–secrets they are sure will, if revealed, destroy their chances of a relationship with the other person. Heck, with any person. They are damaged, you see. Hence, the hang-ups…and, apparently (albeit inexplicably), the sexual virtuosity. Unlike regular romance novels, there is a great deal of psycho-killing. Unlike regular serial-killer books, there are recurrent scenes of consensual sex (not as explicit as fanfic porn, but more…specific, let’s say, than one ordinarily gets in novels about serial murderers).
Yeah, I enjoyed it. So sue me.
Alone by Lisa Gardner
This was not technically a serial-killer book. It was just a killer book. First a cop, in the process of responding to a domestic violence situation, ends up killing a dude. Then the cop gets investigated because unlike on TV, cops can’t just shoot somebody and go back to work the next episode. It is suspected that the wife somehow manipulated the cop into killing the husband. The wife is very sexy and mysterious; she was also the victim of a violent crime in her childhood, and the perpetrator of that crime is back out on the streets. What does that have to do with anything? I forget. The cop has mommy issues. And daddy issues. That’s why he’s not entirely sure if his shooting of the dude was really on the up-and-up. There is also some other intrigue with the wife being the widow of the son of a very powerful judge, and crap, I just lost interest. It was okay while I was reading it, but mostly I just wanted to understand what had really happened so I could stop reading it. I didn’t like any of these characters. They were kind of cold. Which one would expect from people who are damaged. (But this was a psychological thriller, not a romantic thriller, so there were no sex scenes to break up all those relentless head games the characters played with each other. Ha ha, I joke. But there weren’t.) I’m making the book sound more interesting than it was, I think. Although it wasn’t uninteresting. I dunno, maybe it just wasn’t my cuppa.
The Dirty Secrets Club by Meg Gardiner
This was a book about a forensic psychiatrist, who has to figure out if a death is a suicide or a homicide. She lost her husband in a tragedy a couple years ago, and she is still grieving and can’t move on. Hint: she blames herself. Does this prevent her from finding true love with another man? I won’t tell you. No, this is not another Romantic Thriller. This is a suspenseful story about rich and powerful people dying in suspicious manners and a forensic psychiatrist trying to figure out why before more rich and powerful people end up dead. Did I mention that these rich and powerful people have dirty secrets that they will do anything to keep from being exposed? That might have gone without saying, given the title, but I figured I’d say it anyway. This book passes the Bechdel test because the forensic psychiatrist and the cop on the case are both women, and they talk about a lot of stuff, not just the man who is killing people. It was a pretty good book. It had some twists. I liked the forensic psychiatrist. I thought, “This lady could have her own series.” And, as it turns out, she does. So maybe I will read her some more.
Lady Killer by Lisa Scottoline
This was technically not a serial-killer book, either. It was more a killer-book/woman-in-danger book because only one person really gets killed, but there is a lot of danger for the ladies involved. But it is not a very serious book, despite the fact that there is killing and danger. The killing and danger are serious, but the characters are not brooding and damaged; rather, they have very good senses of humor and are occasionally wacky. Our protagonist is a lawyer from South Philly, and her old high school rival from the old neighborhood comes to her for help because she thinks her abusive boyfriend is going to kill her, but she can’t leave him because he’s connected. That’s right, he’s in the mob. Yes, everyone’s Italian, but that has nothing to do with anything. People end up missing, hijinks ensue. I guess it is technically a chick-lit killer-book because there are girlfriends galore, and a very handsome man enters the picture at some point. It was not particularly what I was expecting, but as murder mysteries go, it was cute.
And now I go in search of more serial-killer/killer books to feed my insatiable appetite for trashy fiction. If you have suggestions for me, leave them in the box provided.