Sunday, December 15, 2013

'The Serialist'

Oh, how I love David Gordon's new novel!  He dances around the 'twists-and-turns' and isn't afraid to write exactly what's on his mind.  He has a way of keeping the story perking along while maintaining its brilliance without 'talking down' to his audience.

Sometimes, and I'm not embarrassed to say this, the pornographic element lends itself to the funniest, quirkiest scenes that I didn't see...ahem...coming.

That's 'The Serialist', in a nutshell.

It's a somewhat amusing (but not 'light' by any means) mystery, although there are elements of grave, dark disorder.  We are introduced to a serial killer, nicknamed 'The Photo Killer', on Death Row, his chain-smoking lawyer, and her beautiful, young assistant. We also meet Claire, a very young, very rich, very neglected girl who becomes Harry's voice of reason.  

And then there's the narrator, the struggling writer, Harry Bloch, who, by using various pseudonyms, has pumped out pulpy serial novels; vampire books to detective stories.  In the midst of financial desperation, the day arrives when his life is turned upside-down; he is offered the chance to ghostwrite the serial killer's biography...but at a price.

Harry has to visit some of the women who have written to Darian Clay, women who have expressed a certain...desire...for the serial killer.  By interviewing these women, Harry has to write little pornographic stories for the killer in exchange for the man's life story.

But Harry soon finds himself at the center of a new murder investigation and working alongside two FBI men:  One friendly, and the other not-so-friendly. Despite the fact that he is being watched, Harry sets out to find the murderer, and at the same time, trying to avoid becoming the next victim.

This wonderful novel also focuses on Harry's past regrets, has beautifully realized back stories, and characters that will stay with you for a long, long time.  But it's the inclusion of some chapters from Harry's serial novels that really added to the enjoyment.  When he has to make an appearance on behalf of his newest vampire book, I laughed my butt off.

The back blurb says, '...The Serialist is a love letter to books--from poetry to pornography--and proof that truth really can be stranger than fiction'.  Whoever wrote it wasn't kidding.  

It's original, it's fresh, and it's highly intelligent, but not to the point where you put it down in frustration.  It's the wittiness and the author's love of writing that makes this story come alive.

Thank you, David Gordon.  Your future is bright.

'The Serialist', published by Simon & Schuster, is available at your local library and independent bookstore.

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