If you had been following my blog for a while now, you would know how excited I become when I get my hands on a serial killer, erm I mean a book on serial killers. The blurb of the book was so intriguing promising me tale with ‘a serial killer, an execution and an after life with a dosage on morality’, how could I pass it up?
If death is all you can sentence a killer of 28 women to, especially when he feels no remorse towards his deeds, would you be satisfied if one of the victims was your family? What could be a worse punishment than death itself?
If every child with a bad home doesn’t turn into a killer, what makes the notorious few to turn into one? Rather, how much does a broken family and abused childhood affect a killer’s mind?
The story begins with The Tally Man, Stark being executed by lethal injection at the high security prison at ADX Absolom in front of his victim’s families and the media. He feels no regrets, even till the last moment of his life, rather looks forward to whatever that may lay ahead for him. Joe O Connell, a reporter and follower of Obdiah Stark’s life, investigates the execution when he hears that there might be a foul play.
Stark ‘awakes’ after his execution and is shocked to find he lives at his hometown with a loving wife and affectionate daughter. Being true to his evil self, he goes around the town on murder spree only to be shot down by the cops. Much to his and the reader’s surprise, he wakes up the next day only to realize that the previous day wasn’t real after all. While his family seem to have reasoned his mood swings and confusions to the effects of his medications, he continues to feed his ego by rampaging around killing people only to find that the days to be restored.
There are three Point of Views (PoV) in the story; the afterlife of Stark with his family, Joe’s investigation about the irregularities related to Stark’s death in real time and the fact sheet based on the Dr. John Franklin’s psychological profiling of Stark right from his childhood. Though there were places I felt the shift among the PoVs little abrupt and disturbing the flow of the narration, they bring together the past, the present and the future of Stark side by side.
I am not sure what to feel about Stark. Should I say he was intriguing but that would be saying too little. I don’t relate to him per se, but how can I not feel awed at someone who knocks off people in such a gory fashion then walks into a bar and asks a mug of beer. Wow, now that is style. He preys on other’s lives not because he hates them nor for other petty reasons like vengeance, money or lust, he kills because he can. He loves to feel the power over the victim, it gives him a high. And even after the job done he doesn’t feel a remorse, rather just moves on with his life. To say he was the evil personified would be closer to truth, and that is why I like him. In short, the best serial killer I have read. Did I mention he had a tattoo of his tally of 28 murders? Sigh, what is wrong with me. I would love to read more about him. Oh wait there is more to the series? I am picking them up for sure. I should start with I am in love with the author’s writing style, dictum and everything that I could think of. I have been raving about the book and its author to everyone who would listen to, from the day I started reading the novel. I can not believe that Hellbound is the debut of the author David McCaffrey, I am sure to follow his other works.
I clearly was hooked from the right beginning and the plot twists kept my pulse rising right till the last page. And the final twist made me go ‘Woah, did I read that right?’ Well played, David! For someone who reads too much about killers for her own good, Hellbound: The Tally Man has been the best read in 2016 (yet).