Edgar Allen Poe-Inside the mind of the insane

Edgar Allen Poe is one of my favorite authors. I remember reading The Raven for the first time back in eighth grade, and I instantly fell in love. The way he could weave words together and send chills down my spine was the best. After that, I was hooked and read everything I could by Edgar Allen Poe.

This week we read a few short stories The Tell-Tale Heart, The Black Cat, and The Cast of Amontillado, by Poe where the narrator was not so reliable. The narrators in each story were insane. Now, writing a story with a narrator that’s not all there is not an easy task. As a writer, we walk a fine line with our word choice with these characters, but they can be so much fun to write if you know what you are doing. Poe certainly did.

The Tell-Tale Heart ranks up there with The Raven for me. I will admit, I have not read the story in years, so it was neat to take a look at it with a fresh pair of eyes. The story is short which is nice, but the words chosen pulls us in and guides us through a brief trip inside this lunatic’s mind.

Poe introduces us to the problem the narrator faces. He cannot stand the color and look of an eye that the old gentleman he tends to has. He describes it as, “He had the eye of a vulture—a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees—very gradually—I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever,” (Poe 179). Now, most of us would think why should the eye bother someone that much. My first thought would be to not look at it. But, there are small things all around us that can affect us and drive us nuts. For me, I don’t like to see a mass of little bugs like baby spiders or ants running around. All I want to do is banish them from my site. So, while I can understand his aversion to the eye, killing the old man is just a tad too much.

If Poe had thought the same way as me, we wouldn’t have a creepy story to read. I found it interesting how the narrator tries to justify his hate for this one body part. He goes to great lengths to tell us how much he loves the old man and has no desire for the man’s wealth, but that one eye is what pushes him over the edge. I think Poe did a good job getting inside the narrators head and giving us a front row seat to his downward spiral.

In The Black Cat, the narrator starts the same way telling us that he is mad and that he is going to die, but he must tell us what caused this. He seems to be happily married, and they have lots of animals. Everything appears great for this guy, but then one day something happens, and he goes off the deep end. To me, there is no reason for him to have these issues other than it seems to be a midlife crisis gone wrong. Isn’t this what could happen to any of us? We are fine and dandy one day and the next we are losing it and about to go on a killing spree.

What I found interesting in these two stories was the fact that both of the narrators after everything is said and done feel guilt. If someone, is genuinely insane would they feel guilty about what they did? It almost seems to me that this was an excuse used to absolve themselves of responsibly.

Poe does a great job with planting these questions in our mind. That may not have been his intent, but for me it does. Writing from the point of view of someone who is insane or unreliable is no small task, and yet Poe handles this rather well. What’s even more interesting is the fact that he did these with so few words. Whether you like Poe or not you have to give him applause for doing what most don’t want to do.

Batman: The Killing Joke

The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland has to be on of these most messed up graphic novels I have read. The whole premise of the story made me feel like I had drunk some chemical concoction and fallen down a twisted rabbit hole. With that being said it was a good read, and it brought up a lot of interesting questions.

I have always wondered what The Joker’s backstory was. So, I asked my husband, who loves comics, and he told me that there was no real backstory to Joker. That made me curious about the sheer fact that Joker seems like he is intelligent even though he is seriously unhinged. As I am reading the book, we are introduced to a man who supposedly is Joker before the change. He wants to be a comedian, and yet he fails which is ironic because after his transformation he is twistedly sick and funny at times. For someone who was so smart that he worked as a lab technician it made me wonder why he would fall into the hands of criminals. I know people do crazy and stupid things when they are desperate, but I am sure he could have found a better job instead of taking these criminals through his former place of work.

After doing some digging, I found out that Joker does not have a real backstory. The only thing I could find about him was that the creators modeled him off of Conrad Veidt’s character Gwynplaine from the 1928 film The Man Who Laughs but beyond that, there is nothing else to go on. It is as though the creators wanted a maniac without a background. There was a lot of fan speculation. My favorite one is that Joker knows he’s in a comic and that’s why he breaks the fourth wall sometimes. I think that is just the writers having fun with the fans.

Visually this graphic novel is well done. The colors are sharp and eye-catching which is a significant contrast to 30 Days of Night. The colors grab your attention, and they force you to focus on the gruesome yet beautifully drawn images. This book pushes things to the edge. From Joker shooting Police Chief Gordon’s daughter and then taking pictures of her to Joker and his minions stripping Gordon naked.

Now, let’s look at that section for a bit. I think it was the most messed up part of the story. Barbara and Gordon are having a typical father-daughter conversation. I was waiting for Batman to appear and some discussion takes place. Instead, we have Joker arrive, and he shoots Barbara, and his goons beat up Gordon and take him away. But before Joker leaves Barbara to die, he decides to undress her and take photographs of her. That part made my skin crawl, but the worse was yet to come. We find Gordon being stripped naked and Joker tries to make him go mad by sending him through an old carnival ride with pictures of his daughter plastered everywhere on the screens. The storyline seemed like something Joker could and would do. Visually the artist made it so you could not turn away though the colors used and the use of light and dark throughout the scenes. Honestly, I could have done without that part but, for the shock, they were going for in the story they nailed it.

The Killing Joke was an interesting take on Joker. I didn’t find this idea of his backstory very believable considering how intelligent he is. It was an intriguing story and the use of color, and sometimes lack of color pulled you in or directed your attention to a specific area first. It may be something I look into later on down the road.

Joyride-A not so pleasant ride after all

So far this semester we have read some interesting books, but Joyride takes the cake. Jack Ketchum takes you on a ride deep into the mind of no So far this semester we have read some interesting books, but Joyride takes the cake. Jack Ketchum takes you on a ride deep into the mind of not only a psychopath but also his victims.

Most of the time when you read a story that has someone committing a murder we don’t get to learn much about the victim. The detectives or the murderer will reveal a little bit, but that’s it. Jack Ketchum did something that so far I have not seen in a book, and that is to introduce us the thoughts and dreams of the victim right before they died. He took the adage that your life will flash before your eyes and made it real. In doing this, it causes us to feel more for the victim and even connect with them. There were a few cases where I could identify with the person on the receiving end of Wayne’s (psychopath/murderer) rage. If we can sympathize with the poor soul, who is about to die then their death has more of an impact on us as the reader. As I was finishing the story, I had to make sure to watch something funny, so I could clear my mind and not have to worry about the possibility of messed up dreams.

Teachers and writers warn us that when we write our stories to be careful switching between too many points of view with the characters. This is understandable because a story can become muddy or jumbled with too many voices trying to be the focus. In the beginning, I was a tad confused as to whose head we were in, but once I recognized the thought process of each character, the story became a breeze. I would have stayed a little longer in each person’s voice before I started to blend them to give the reader enough time to figure out who was talking.

This story was a fast read. There was a conflict right at the very beginning when Wayne and his girl Susan fought after he tried to choke her during sex. After Susan storms off and leaves Wayne in the woods, I wondered what was next. The set up was of course for Wayne to watch Carole and her boyfriend Lee murder her ex-husband. At that moment, we got a real taste for how far gone Wayne was. His obsession with Carole and Lee keeps the moment of the story going. Wayne was the force that drove the story forward and kept the middle of the story from hitting that dreaded lull all writers fear. There was so much going on that you wanted to keep turning the page up until almost the very end. The story lost its momentum after the police rescued Carole from Wayne’s house. But, it was necessary because the joyride was over and it was time to tie up loose ends and close the story.

In most books I’ve read the cop is happy that they found the person committing the crimes. I have not come across many books where the detective thought that he was like the killer. This story was different in the end. Detective Rule has finally come full circle with his inner demons. His wife left him because he was never there. He goes so far to say to his psychiatrist that he and Wayne are just alike in that they destroy things. But, his psychiatrist points out that Rule tries to stop what is terrible and protects what is good through whatever means necessary and that separates him from the monsters in the world.

Seven-Movie

Seven is one of my most favorite physiological thrillers ever. I remember when I first watched it, for lack of a better term, how freaked out I was. I sat there thinking about how anybody could do something like this to another person. Did John Doe believe he was better than the people he tortured and killed?

First of all, I love the differences between Somerset and Mills. Mills comes off as this hard-hitting detective, and he doesn’t take no for an answer. He is brash and tends to bend the rules, but his heart is in the right place. He wants to make a difference, and he thinks he can. A prime example of this occurring was after John Doe shot at them and almost kills Mills. They return to John Doe’s apartment and Mills breaks down the door. Now they did not have probable cause even to be there. So Mills pays a homeless woman to lie so they can use the evidence they find in John Doe’s apartment. The part at the end of that scene was him telling her to take care of herself and make sure she got something to eat. Mills still has a dream that what he does matters and he can take on the forces of evil.

Then there’s Somerset. He is at the end of his career. But, he can see what will happen to Mills if he stays in the inner city and takes on this case. Somerset is a thinker. He gets inside the head of the killer, but he has no delusion that what he does doesn’t make as big of a difference as what Mills wants. Without the help of Somerset Mills would not have solved the case. I think if Somerset had washed his hands of the whole thing, Mills would have been killed by John Doe.

Now, let’s look at John Doe. John Doe is an interesting character. He believes what he is doing is right and that it will make a difference. John Doe almost comes off having a messiah complex. This is evident by the sparse living quarters and all the red crosses around his apartment. He even goes so far as to admit that he has sinned when he envies what Mills has. There is some part of John Doe that wants to know what it is like to be normal and not the person delivering a message to the world. But, John Doe can’t. He does not think like everyone else or even acts like what we would consider an average person. John Doe can emulate an ordinary person, but he can never be an average everyday person. There is a disconnect somewhere in his mind that makes it impossible.

These three characters are so diverse that when they come together the dynamic is enormous. It’s like playing a game of chess. Somerset is ever the calm and collective person in this movie. He is what keeps Mills in check until the very end. In some ways, Somerset is just as calculating as John Doe. Somerset is the one who sees the connection with the seven deadly sins. He is the one who finds the information that helps Mills to understand John Doe. If this had just been Somerset versus John Doe, it would have been a very different movie. The question would be who would win and who would be dead at the end.

I think the way these characters interacted drove the plot of this movie forward. There was a conflict between the detectives and then them against the killer. This cat and mouse game had a gruesome ending. John Doe played this game like a finely tuned fiddle. He was always one step ahead of the detectives. I don’t think that the movie would have worked if Mills had not killed John Doe at the end. There would have been a bit of a let down if there was not that one thing to push Mills over the edge. When Mills finds out that his wife has been murdered along with their unborn child, it is checkmate. Mills cannot process he cannot believe that the world he is trying to make better could have this happen.

This movie is one for the books. It has compelling characters that are believable, and I think that is what makes this movie so scary. There are people out there that are just like Mills and Somerset trying to fight the good fight. Then there are people just like John Doe out there working to deliver what they believe is a message through the cruelest way possible.

Taxi Drive-Movie

This week we watched the movie Taxi Driver. I found this movie to be engaging in the way it followed Travis Bickle’s descent into becoming a psychopath.

He starts as an everyday sort of guy. He’s a bit of a wise ass, but that is just a coping mechanism for him. Deep down he is trouble by whatever he did in the military. This leads him to work strange hours and even take a job driving a taxi during the night shift. I think that in reality, his descent started long before he ever sees Betsy.

So, what is next for a guy like Travis? He happens to be sitting outside just people watching and here comes Betsy. Travis is instantly attracted to her, but instead of going through the usual ritual of talking to a girl he stalks her. How creepy is it that he sits outside his cab drinking a coke just watching her. I am sorry, but if a guy did that and it bothered me, I sure wouldn’t turn around and go out with him. Yet, that is what Betsy does.

In a way, I felt bad for Travis. The guy is clueless about how to interact with people. He almost badgers her into going out for coffee and then somehow, he can convince her to go on a date. The date, of course, is a disaster because he takes her to a porn film. I don’t know if I find that believable.

After she rejects him, Travis is on a downward spiral into his living hell. I can see where someone would be down after that. He meets Iris who ran away from home and is being pimped out. Now, he seems to attach himself to her. Trying to save her. While I think this is noble, it made me wonder if Iris just wasn’t a surrogate for Betsy? Not in a sexual way more that she was something that should have been left pure and innocent like he saw Betsy, an angel.

I felt like the movie after his involvement with Iris is a bit far-fetched. It was like being on an acid trip that he after the scum that he thought should be removed from the city. But in doing so, he became like them. He killed people and was hailed a hero. In reality, I just don’t see how this is possible. There is something wrong with this man, and yet they don’t see it.

The movie was just a jumble to me, but I think that worked in a way. It allowed us to be so far inside Travis’s head that we were able to experience the world as he saw it. There was very little good and what little good he found he tried to protect it. While I find that noble the way he did it was wrong.

Taxi Driver was interesting, and the characters were brilliantly written. Even though they were from different walks of life, they were all connected. The descent into his madness could have been handled better. Overall, it wasn’t a bad movie. Just not my cup of tea.

Helter Skelter aka The Family

I will say that I am an avid reader and I will read almost anything I can get my hands on. This week we read Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry. What a freaky and trippy ride this book was. I don’t mean trippy in the sense of using narcotics. It is more of the mind-blowing aspect of how people who crave a sense of belonging can be persuaded to do such horrible things.
I have come across a few books that may send chills down my spine when reading what the characters have done but this sensation passes and rarely occurs again for me. With this book that was not the case. The fact that these are actual people who committed such horrible acts against another living human being blew my mind. I will note here that I listened to the audio version of this book and I still wonder how the narrator was able to sit and read this book aloud. Did he have to pause as many times as the people who sat on the grand jury when they heard the testimony of those involved?
As I sit here and write this blog piece, I am still in a sort of shock as to what happened and how the people involved acted and responded to everything they did. I had to take breaks because of some of the things they did hit too close to home for me. The biggest one was what they did to Sharon Tate and how the killers had wanted to cut out her baby. That one bit there appalled me the most. Now, most of the time horror is meant to scare us, thrill us, or force us to face our fears along with many other things. This book, however, did none of these things. It retold the facts of actual murders that happened to real people.
We are given an in-depth background on Charles Manson. His life was spent in and out of institutions. Yet he was able to learn how to manipulate people even the doctors who attended to him. Was this a natural ability or more of a learned one? Who knows but once Manson figured this out he started to gather followers. The way these girls and a few guys followed him blindly is scary. There are charismatic people in this world, but from the recounts of his followers, he was above all that. Their desire to belong made him more than what he was.
So, with all that being said the style of this book was interesting. It was a very factual base novel. There was no embellishment to the story it was a retelling of the facts. Even more interesting was the fact that the prosecuting attorney was our storyteller. There was a detachment to his words, but with this case and his line of work, it is to be expected. He had a distinct and concise way of telling how the investigations were conducted and what evidence was found. Even when he finally introduces himself, it is all facts. There was no emotion from him or even talk about how he loved or hated his career. Just what he discovered and the extra work he had put into the case. Usually, a book like this would be, but it wasn’t. I think the smooth tone of the author coupled with that of the narrator helped to ease a lot of the shock that people were going to receive whether they read the book or listened to the audio.
Overall, this book was chilling. I don’t think this will ever be a book I sit and read again. I am glad that I have it on audio and my kids don’t have access to a paper copy just yet. I still shudder thinking about everything that was revealed.

Misery by Stephen King

This week we read Misery by Stephen King. I usually am not a huge fan of his stories because they seem to take too long building everything to get to the action. With that being said Misery starts differently. King quickly introduced to the characters and the tension starts at the beginning of the story. Which is something I like in a novel.

We meet Paul Sheldon and Annie Wilkes. At first, it seems that Paul has been saved, but the descriptions used are crucial to queuing the reader that this may not be the case. Now, I am not usually a fan of long descriptions especially ones that are the length of a paragraph and only one sentence. I love having descriptions blended into the story. But with that, I think these long description actually work.

Our first introduction to Annie is a prime example. Paul talks about how there is a mouth over his, and it is a woman’s mouth but here is where it gets a little eerie, “…a woman’s mouth in spite of its hard spitless lips, and the wind from this woman’s mouth blew into his own mouth and down his throat…” (King 5). So we get this image of something not pleasant. Most people associate a woman’s lips being soft and gentle. Here we get the opposite. They are dry and hard, and the air is being forced inside of Paul almost telling us it’s against his will. The description goes on to add to this uncomfortable feeling with his description of her breath “… when the lips were pulled back he smelled his warder for the first time, smelled her on the outrush of fresh breath she had forced into him the way a man might force part of himself into an unwilling woman, a dreadful mixed stench of vanilla cookies and chocolate ice cream and chicken gravy, and peanut butter fudge,” (5).

First people normally associate things like vanilla cookies and chocolate ice cream with things that are sweet and nice, but King took these familiar ideas and made them something that could churn a person’s stomach with the addition of chicken gravy when I read that my stomach did flips. My first thought was how gross to eat all those things so close together that they still lingered in a person’s mouth. My second thought was how disgusting that would be to taste that from someone else’s mouth. I don’t think I would be able to keep down what little was left in my stomach if that was the case. So King did a great job twisting these comforting things into something else.

I have to admit that this next part was a great way to describe Paul’s disgust as Annie forces, even more, of the air from her inside him. King explains the next breath of air as Annie’s limps clamping down and it, “blew down it like the dank suck of wind which follows a fast subway train, pulling sheets of newspaper and candy-wrappers after it…and he thought For Christ’s sakes don’t let any of it out through your nose, but he couldn’t help it and oh that stink, that stink that fucking STINK,” (5). What a way to describe someone trying to save another’s life. Most images of subways are dark, damp, and dirty. The Paul is like don’t let it out, but he can’t help it. If he doesn’t take a breath, she will keep forcing her stink down inside him and infecting him.

Overall, the descriptions in Misery are what I think drove this story forward. They immediate leave a bad taste in the reader’s mouth towards Annie. She because something that we want to run away from but yet we can’t because just like Paul we are made immobile by the pull of the words until the story is done.

The Silence of the Lambs (Movie)

I felt like a kid in a candy store after watching The Silence of the Lambs. I remember watching this movie for the first time when it first came out in 1991. I loved watching a woman be the heroine of the story and face the big bad psychopath who could at times be so darn charming. It still thrills me to sit and watch this movie even though I know what is going to happen. The film follows Clarice Starling as she is finishing up her training to become an FBI field agent. She is literally used as bait to get Dr. Hannibal Lector to talk. It works, but it places her in a dangerous game of cat and mouse.
One of the things I loved about this movie is the fact that Clarice can go toe to toe with Lector. Clarice doesn’t sugar coat her feelings, and I think that is what gives her the ability to combat Lector. Lector who is insightful into the human psyche and can take anything about a person and turn it against them is a formidable foe.

There is a frankness in Clarice’s character that still allows us to know her and see her for who she is. I think that is what attracts Lector to her. I don’t mean sexually, but more of an intellectual way. There is almost a professional respect between the two of them. Clarice does try to trick him with the deal to help find Buffalo Bill, but there is a moment in the film where this amuses Lector.

Anthony Hopkins did a phenomenal job portraying Lector. He said in the interview that he had to play this character just right or he would come off as cartoonish (I am paraphrasing here). I personally don’t think the other actors they had looked at for Lector would have been able to pull this off.

I thought the interview with Jodie Foster was an interesting insight into the actress. She campaigned to have the role when the director was focused on another actress who turned it down. I loved how Jodie took the time think about who Clarice was and bring the character to life. It was clear that she respected Clarice. I think this was crucial for us as the viewer to care about what happens to her.

This may sound odd to say, but the most endearing scenes in the movie is where Clarice goes to see lector in his makeshift cell. I think this scene goes back to the respect she has for him. Clarice knew him for what he was, but there was never a point in the way she presented herself that was false. When advised not to let him inside her head she did it anyway. I think Clarice knew that if she didn’t answer him honestly, he would shut down on her. I don’t know if I could be that brave, but she was able to get past all his games and tricks he used to keep the good detectives and doctors away. She for one knows that he can help her and the information he gave everyone else is false. The fact that she was able to see through his rouse made Clarice a worthy opponent for Lector.

The way the director cut from Buffalo Bill’s house to the other house had me on pins and needles. It was a great way to build the tension in the movie. Building on that scene is where Clarice finds Buffalo Bill. She is just following up on a blind lead and unwittingly enters the killers home. The way Clarice is portrayed in the movie, I think, is very true to the character and is believable how someone would respond. I would be terrified knowing that I was in pursuit of the killer alone with no backup and of course there were no cell phones to send a quick text my boss. She tries to be brave, but you can tell she is scared out of her mind. Yet, Clarice prevails and saves the daughter. Clarice becomes the knight in shining armor to rescue the damsel. I loved the fact that she was able to do it alone with no one else to help her.

This is one of my favorite movies both for horror and just suspenseful drama. I don’t think I will ever tire of watching this movie. I want to go back and watch the other ones now because they are all just so good.

Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

This week we read Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. This is by far one of my favorite horror novels. It ranks up there on my list with America Psycho by Peter Bradford Ellis. There are so many things I loved about this book. The characters where are richly done and unique. That can be hard when there are multiple characters, and some only appear for a page or two. Each word was chosen to invoke an emotion or set off an image in the reader’s mind. If you haven’t listened to this one on audio, I highly recommend that you do.
The book follows the story of Special Agent Will Graham as he purses the Tooth Fairy aka Red Dragon. Now, Graham is not your typical hero. He is almost an anti-hero. He doesn’t want to help with the investigation because he knows it will disrupt his life with Molly and Willy. Throughout the novel, Graham must battle his demons. He killed a man who was trying to kill his daughter and it caused him to question everyone. The incident haunts Graham from the beginning to the end of the novel. The confliction of Graham makes him an intriguing character to follow and also a scary one. He has gone too far down the rabbit hole ever to consider himself normal. As I read, I kept wondering if he was going to snap and go down off the deep end.
I think what makes Graham such a likable character with all his faults is his ability to feel empathy for the victims. He gets to know them on such a personal level that he feels close to them. It’s almost the same way the killer connects with the families. If he can learn about them, then Graham can get inside the head of the psychopath and figure out his next move.
In stark contrast, we have Francis Dollarhyde. Harris sets him up as this evil man, and of course, we want Graham to find him and bring him to justice. But, halfway through the book, we get up close and personal with Dollarhyde. Harris goes into great detail to give us his backstory. Now, most of the time I cannot stand interrupting the story for a massive background dump, but Harris did it in such a way that the story would not work without it. For us to understand Dollarhyde, we had to get to know him. His mother abandoned him because of a cleft pallet. As a mom, I cringed at the thought of someone doing this to an innocent child. It made me wonder if she had accepted him would he have been different? Of course, without his haunted and tragic background, we would not have a story. But, it still makes me wonder.
At first, I cheered when the Grandmother came to “rescue” him from the orphanage. That is until we got a closer look at her. She was downright disconnected from even her own family. There was this holier-than-thou attitude she had, and it made me sick the way she treated him. In giving his backstory, Harris garnered sympathy from the reader. I think it was critical that the reader had some form of Sympathy for Dollarhyde. It’s not that I wanted him to get away. I wanted him punished for the crimes he committed, but I wanted to see him change and stop trying to kill people. He was a weird reversal of the Oedipus Rex complex. But instead of just killing the father to marry the mother. Dollarhyde killed everyone including the women he was trying to connect with.
I would be remised if I did not talk about Hannibal Lector for a few sentences. Even though he was not in the forefront of the story he played a crucial role. Lector’s character is one that leaves us with chills every time he speaks. He is so eloquent and refined until he decides he wants to eat you. He drove the story forward when needed. If it were not for him being consulted in the beginning, then Dollarhyde would not have reached out and set into motion events leading to his downfall.
Overall, this book will not be a bore to read. It is engaging, and I felt like I was walking with the characters trying to solve this puzzle. They thrilled me and sent chills all over my body as I got up close and personal with the killers.

The Sculptor by Gina Fava

The Sculptor by Gina Fava was a fast paced, action packed horror novel. I loved how the pacing never seemed to slow down. There was always something going on in this book to help push the story forward.

The story starts off with Mara Silvestri on a flight to Rome where she is attending business school and intends to spread her father’s ashes on the countryside of his childhood home. As I read the story, it was clear that she knew there was a murderer on the loose and murdering students from her new school. My first thought was why in the world would anyone want to go to a school where a murdered is picking off students one by one. But, if she had not gone, then we would have read a much different story.

There were a lot of characters that wove their way in and out of the story. I think that Fava did a pretty good job keeping the characters clear and giving each one a distinctive personality. She achieved this a couple of different ways. I noticed that each character had their own way of speaking or conveying information, some had specific mannerism, and others were called a unique nickname throughout the story. Take Mara’s best friend, Kristen. Kristen always had a pair of cuticle scissors with her, and she was constantly trimming the split ends from her hair. In contrast, Professor Jack Sugardale was always referred to as Signore Jack, and he called every woman he met, little lady.

I enjoyed all the twist and turns as Mara and Jesse tried to uncover who the Sculptor was. I was glad that the murders were known to us and that it was not someone we had not met yet (this is a spoiler if you haven’t read the story) but, there was the twist at the end that let us know that the real Sculptor was still out there. Fava even leaves more clues at the end of the story without telling us who the mastermind is.

Fava had plenty of light-hearted moments through the story that helped to balance all the gruesome murders, which I felt contributed to keeping the story interesting. I would have liked more tension between Mara and Jesse. I felt their relationship went way to fast. At the beginning of the book Mara is attracted to Jesse, then she can’t stand him, and a few pages later she’s kissing him, but I guess that can happen in real life just probably not centered around a murder or a group of murders. Some of the descriptions used to describe the characters were funny. My favorite line was, “She took hold of his arm, impressed by the sheer bulk of his python-like biceps,” (Fava 62). Yes, this is a cheesy line to me, but it was also funny. As we write we are always told to find new ways to describe something that has been described a million times over.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. I like how it was faced paced, and everything that happened pushed the story forward. The twist and turns were fun to navigate in-between all the grotesque murders.