Sample Coverage: (Cont'd):  Thrill of the Kill / Page 4

COMMENTS:

This spine-tingling and concise thriller/mystery with a kaleidoscopic point-of-view which keeps its cards close to the vest until the last moment is adeptly formulated, displaying sophisticated craftsmanship concerning its intelligent and provoking dialogue, deep characterization, smart structuring, and original outline.

The premise of an individual investigating his or her sister's murder is a significant one, the family tie between them generating an inherent pathos and stimulating our own familial feelings, and has been utilized in many films (the classic one being Psycho in the thriller genre). A serial killer's crimes being reflected in a book is an engrossing concept which poses disturbing questions such as "Which came first, the crime or the tale?" and "Who's the killer, the writer or his reader?" and has shown up in various forms in countless films (i.e., Closer and Closer, The Dark Half, Deliberate Intent, and Murder of Crows, to cite only a few). The overshadowing indication that it was the victim's penchant for promiscuity which eventually became her downfall (although it is does not constitute a heavy-handed morality play) recalls a similar perception in Looking for Mr. Goodbar. The final revelation that the killer has projected a likeable image is seeped in reality since, as the media has shown, many nefarious serial killers completely beguile people with their charismatic personalities. The killer's beastly modus operandi recalls serial killer/butcher-oriented films such as Bone Daddy and Seven.

We are instantly transported into the story by taking on the killer's perspective, being forced to be in his skin, feeling both fascinated and repulsed by the intimacy of the ignominious situation. We just as quickly become objective observers, not knowing if the murder was real or a fabrication from a book. When we finally find our bearings, realizing that we were witnessing the machinations of a novelist (Graydon) which connect him indirectly to an actual murder, we naturally throw some of our suspicion his way, but direct it more and more towards the main suspect (the senator) who is acting guilty and aggressively. By the time we realize that we have been thoroughly hoodwinked and recognize with a jolt that we have been sucked into believing the illusion the killer designed, the author trading on our assumptions and having us follow the false clues the killer purposely leaves, our hearts are pounding even before the protagonist's because now we know: The killer has been in front of us all along, hiding in plain sight (even as a possible paramour of the protagonist B a brilliant tour de force by the author). Once the killer substitutes his writer's persona for his cold-as-ice predatory one, we come full circle, awed by our awareness that, in the beginning, we were not simply witnessing his imagination, but, rather, we were being made privy to his actual, mad and violent world. From that moment on, we hold our breath as he perfunctorily goes about his business of stalking our fleeing heroine, who treats us with an unexpected twist when she transforms from victim to aggressor, and, lastly, victor, thereby allowing us our own vicarious celebration because the overhanging menace has finally been removed permanently. At the same time, we appreciate the irony of the heroine having chosen the actual killer to find the killer. The gruesomeness of the tale is well-handled, the author leaving our imaginations to bear most of its weight, but simultaneously using it to envelop us in apprehensiveness. One credibility gap takes place when the protagonist allows herself to be in a vulnerable and exposed situation, displaying an excessively laissez-faire stance, considering the imminent danger she is in.

The perennial three-act mode shines through, the first act setting up the dominant discord (the protagonist teaming up with the novelist to find her sister's killer); the second act establishing the obstacles in her way (the investigation of the senator and the danger involved); the third act resolving the main conflict (the protagonist confronting and vanquishing the killer).

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