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 mindBook Name: Hellbound: The Tally Man
Author: David McCaffrey
Characters: Obadiah Stark, Joe O Connell, Eva, Eve
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).
How far would you let a stranger into your life? How far, if he was a convicted murderer? How far, if he would proclaim it in public?
About the book
Book Name: The Killing of Mummy’s Boy
Author: Joan Ellis
Genre: Fiction – Thriller
Characters: Sandra, Carl, Ben, Lee Elliot, Debs
Setting: Isle of Wight, London, The UK
Disclaimer: I received this book from the Booklover Catlady Publicity Reviews free of cost in return for an honest review.
Sandra has had always a careful life, watching her back and her son’s. Her son, Carl is under the Witness Protection Programme for helping convicting the local thug Lee Elliot on a murder. Carl is a reckless youngster, who doesn’t seem to understand the grave danger that hung over his neck and blames his mother for making him choose the Programme. She loves him terribly and only the concern over his safety that stops her from rushing to her son’s side.
Sandra inadvertently spells out her address to a stranger, who insists on calling her Rosie and proclaims to have been just released out from jail on her journey back home. She learns Ben was in for slitting someone’s throat, and she is filled with paranoia that she is being watched by Ben and her house being visited, her rest rooms used and her food tasted.
She realizes the cop were not taking her complaints seriously and won’t be around to help her unless there were any crimes committed. She is also a wine aficionado, which helps her get through her days and nights while she dread the unannounced visits.
Things get worse when Carl get back home with his pregnant girlfriend in tow. Read The Killing of Mummy’s Boy to find out more if Sandra gets through alive.
My initial thoughts
I have read and enjoyed Joan’s other novel, ‘I am Ella. Buy Me‘, yet I was surprised by the premise of ‘The Killing of Mummy’s Boy’. We don’t think twice much before spelling our addresses out in public these days, and the possibility that this could happen to anyone of us, made it all the more intriguing.
I loved all the twists in the plot (maybe except the final one) and was genuinely pleased that the character I liked didn’t turn out to be the stalker. I had to stop myself tapping my head every time Sandra made a stupid decision, thanks to her being an alcoholic. I disliked Carl and his using his mom as a shield from his own responsibilities even before the plot fell open.
Things that worked for me
- I found the dysfunctional mother-son relationship credible and intriguing, kudos to the Joan’s attention to detail and writing style.
- I loved the writing of Joan Ellis especially as she did a commendable job on bringing out the pain and fear of Sandra and the vivid backdrop of the 80’s.
Things that didn’t work for me
- It was a bit difficult to get into initially but the pace increased as it got past 30% of the book.
- Some may feel that there were too many things happening at the same time, which may be overwhelming.
Joan explores the subject of moral righteousness and integrity against family values and loyalty without be judgmental, which worked well for me. I would love to see a movie on this story-line. Now, I should read Joan’s other novels for sure.
Let us chat
Do you like books with such flawed characters? What about books that scare you by being too close to reality? Do let me know what you think of the book or my review in the comments. Let us talk.
‘How would you commit the perfect murder?’ is my perfect party question. Discussions about serial killers, their motives for the killing spree and of course psychological thrillers are my thing. And when there is a book out there that speaks about India’s number one serial killer I just had to read, don’t I? And here is my take on it.
Book Name: Raakshas – India’s No.1 Serial Killer
Author: Piyush Jha
Genre: Fiction – Thriller
Characters: Raakshas, ACP Maithili Prasad, Kalantak Baba
Disclaimer: I received the book for an honest review from the publishers.
The story follows the protagonist, the killer from his birth to the end. He becomes the notorious Bundi-cut killer, who terrorizes Mumbai by leaving a trail of headless corpse. He begins his spree by killing his own father, who may or not have played a part in him turning into the psychopath he is. Not so fortuitously, the strangers he meets during his journey as an adolescent seem to instigate the actions of the devil within him, especially the fake saint who uses the boy to help him lure women and to dispose of their dead bodies. The narrative accelerates when he starts to visualize all women to be evil and starts a killing spree. Diametrically opposite to him is the ACP Maithili Prasad who pledges to catch him to silence the inner devil from the past. The media also adds oil to the fire, by stroking his ego down. The duo – ACP and the killer form a bond through telephone, trying to understand each other.
Another murder piles on the shrouds over Ms Prasad’s conscious due to a mishap during an operation to catch the killer. She is ripped off her post and she eventually resigns. But the killer by now takes things personal and decides to kill to Ms Prasad. How does he reach her? Did she arrest him or become another victim to his psychopathy? These questions are answered in the rest of the story.
The novel alternates between the stories of the main characters starting at the births and constantly reminds us of how coincidence (destiny?) can make a person a police officer while the other a killer on the run. Both the characters have met death and have been responsible for deaths, before their adulthood. They have an extremely contrasting family brought up and thus arising the question if that had anything to do with the killer’s actions.
I finished the book in a single sitting, thanks to the long train journey to Bengaluru and the fast pace of the book. The writing was crisp and an easy read, yet I was unable to reach out to any of the characters. Even after all the tragedy that killer has gone through I could not feel bad for him, and much lesser for the ACP. In fact, after a point my mind lost the ability to react to the innumerable murders, however gruesome they were. I would have felt happy if only there were more actions from the police to catch the serial killer, at least as such as the media seemed to be contributing.
I always get excited for a serial killer (fictional, obviously) and this book promised to show me the psychology behind their action. Thanks to shows like Dexter and Hannibal Lecter which have showed us a glimpse of the persons that the killers are, my hopes were too high and I was more than curious to read about the psychology of the killer from the book but was left to be satisfied with the appendix. Oh I loved the other part of the appendix which had a brief about the lesser known serial killers from India.
Though it might be due to the ‘soon to be a motion picture’ tag on the cover, that I read the whole book like it was a movie, rather than a novel and I felt there were traces of the yesteryear’s movie called Sivapu rojakal (Red Rose, Hindi) in the story line.
If you want to read about an Indian serial killer, this might be a sure catch up.