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Stephen King

Lisey’s Story * Stephen King Book Review

You’re good for the ones you love. You want to be good for the ones you love, because you know that your time with them will end up being too short, no matter how long it is.

Have you ever read a story which stayed with you well after the book was put down? A story about loss and love and a bit of a magical world that only writers can create?
Well Lisey’s story is this one. I think Stephen King wrote it with his wife, Tabitha, in mind – and envisioned a future where he would be dead and she would be left to pick up the pieces.

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Book Reviews

Nicholas Sparks * The Guardian Book Review

It’s been quite a while since I’ve read a story about a woman, a man and a dog and a psychopath chasing them which wasn’t written by Dean Koontz. Nicholas Sparks has written many, many books like The Notebook and A Walk to Remember – but this is his first thriller and I must say it turned out great. He still let the romance bloom and it didn’t take anything away from the story.

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Book Reviews

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter Book Review

This is my second book by Karin Slaughter and I think “Pretty Girls” is almost as good as The Good Daughter and it even shares some of the common themes: fractured family caused by a murder/disappearance of a loved one, two sisters very different from each other working together to find the killer, a prolific serial killer on the lose.

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Book Reviews

Book Review – Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

If you’re looking for a book that will keep you up past bed time, read Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes. It’s darker than You – Caroline Kepnes Book Review and I think it got some influences from Rose Madder * Stephen King (you’ll know why if you read it). It’s definitely a book to be added to Books dealing with mental health

In Into the Darkest Corner, Catherine’s passionate relationship with Lee takes a nasty turn when she discovers his dark violent side. Things go from bad to worse when she tries to break it off with him. When her friends don’t believe her and she can see no other options, she plans her escape. Four years later, Lee is in jail and Catherine, now going by Cathy, is trying to start over. She tries to keep her constant fear at bay by checking and rechecking that her apartment is safe and secure. Eventually, she befriends her new neighbour, Stuart, who encourages her to deal with her fears in other ways. As time goes by and their relationship deepens, she starts feeling a little better and is beginning trust him. It’s then that she gets a phone call that changes everything. 

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Book Reviews

Hannibal * by Thomas Harris

It’s the season to be scary! La la la la la la la 🙂
Hannibal fell on this year’s horror list and I got to say I was not expecting to pick up the THIRD book from the series when buying this book. But I should have expected it as Silence of The Lambs was the first one.

I’ve seen the movies so I was slightly prepared to jump into a third novel in a series without reading the previous two – so let’s see what happened.

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Book Reviews

Jeff Lindsay * Darkly Dreaming Dexter Book 1

It’s been close to 13 years since I first read this book. The “Dexter” show was in full swing and I ran across the book in the stores and, since I wanted to be a police-woman, I wanted to see how serial killers thought and behaved first hand. And who could teach better than Dexter, the sociopath serial killer with a killing code.
I remember being disappointed with the small book and its ending and thinking how the show was so much better, but now that the entire series ended after eight marvelous seasons, I decided to give it another go and listen to the audio book while driving to/from work.
I found myself laughing at points and making mental notes of different things that define a serial killer and what makes them tick and how can they blend in in our society so well. It’s a black comedy and witty to no end and my favourite type of book: a tingling spine chiller.

Dexter, a forensic `blood splatter analyst’ for the Miami Police, is a secret `controlled sociopath’.
The sociopathic tendencies as defined by Psychology today are:

  • Superficial charm and good intelligence
  • Absence of delusions and other signs of irrational thinking
  • Absence of nervousness or neurotic manifestations
  • Unreliability
  • Untruthfulness and insincerity
  • Lack of remorse and shame
  • Inadequately motivated antisocial behavior
  • Poor judgment and failure to learn by experience
  • Pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love
  • General poverty in major affective reactions
  • Specific loss of insight
  • Unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations
  • Fantastic and uninviting behavior with alcohol and sometimes without
  • Suicide threats rarely carried out
  • Sex life impersonal, trivial, and poorly integrated
  • Failure to follow any life plan

Where Harry’s code has helped Dexter – it has given him a life plan. To weed out the people who went free from the justice system and deserve to die. This is probably why the book starts off with Dexter and his “dark passenger” following a priest and then kidnapping him and confronting him with his deeds: the killing of seven or more innocent children.

After killing him, Dexter does showcase a bit of empathy for the children, which later gets re-iterated when talking about his girlfriend’s two children – Cody and Astor. He does not think of other people as humans, to him they are like props in a world, they do not feel real to him, but children are special – they are still innocent, young and need protection. And he does not want them becoming like him when they grow up. Does this mean that he yearns for his innocence back? To be like a kid again before his mother was brutally murdered and then taken into foster-care?

I am unlovable…I have tried to involve myself in other people, in relationships, and even – in my sillier moments – in love. But it doesn’t work. Something in me is broken or missing and sooner or later the other person catches me Acting or one of Those Nights comes along.”

Otherwise, Dexter is a fully functional adult. He has a job which he loves as he deals with blood splatters and as he puts it – solving crimes is just what others take out of his job. His main purpose is order – wanting to put the drops of blood into a pattern and arrange them so that they make sense. This is probably why he keeps a small drop of blood from all his victims in a case (the priest joins them).

So when a serial killer turns out in the lovely sunny city of Miami, where the light is so bright that makes every murder seem unreal, Dexter finds himself drawn in into the investigation – first by his sister who wants to advance to detective status after working the streets in the Vice department, then by his Dark Passenger who finds himself oddly fascinated by the purity and the beauty of the murders.

No blood. Why didn’t I think of that? Ice stops the blood from spreading.

Dexter also notices – barely – that he is still in the loop because detective LaGuerta has the hots for him and in a very non-subtle way. I mean she massages his leg and makes hints that she knows where to find him if she needs him… Come on! She is full on hitting on poor and unassuming Dexter and the only way he sees her is as a worm, someone to flatter to appear more human in the eyes of others. Well, the flattering paid off and LaGuerta was eyeing him as a woman and not as a co-worker.

“She stared at me “You have a message,” she said. “On you machine.”
I looked over at my answering machine. Sure enough, the light was blinking. The woman really was a detective.
“It’s some girl,” La Guerta said. “She sounds kind of sleepy and happy. You got a girlfriend, Dexter?” there was a strange hint of a challenge in her voice.
“You know how it is,” I said. “Women today are so forward, and when you are as handsome as I am they absolutely fling themselves at your head.” Perhaps an unfortunate choice of words; as I said it I couldn’t help thinking of the woman’s head flung at me not so long ago.
“Watch out,” La Guerta said. “Sooner or later one of them will stick.” I had no idea what she thought that meant, but it was a very unsettling image.
“I’m sure you’re right,” I said. “Until then, carpe diem.”
“What?”
“It’s Latin,” I said. “It means, complain in the daylight.”

He has such a big list of things he needs to do to fit in – from the way he dresses to how he speaks and how he behaves in every situation.

Surpassing the clichés of eroticized violence and the too serious scientific special effects of CSI series, Dexter’s narrative uses an intelligent dark humour to subvert the rational power of forensic experts, showing that an efficient professional can be as perverted by irrational impulses as the criminals themselves, and what really obsesses a serial killer may turn to be the most normal obsession for a common man: to keep up appearances.

Whenever Dexter pretends to be normal, we recognize his daily rites as things we all do every day, and this explains the audience’s interest in the opening credits sequence for the TV series, Dexter. It shows a man putting himself together (piece by piece, close-up by close-up) in the course of enacting his morning rituals. It begins with an extreme close-up of a mosquito (like Dexter, a blood-sucking predator). Dexter swats it easily indifferent to another kill, another day. A trickle of blood flows into the top of the frame and down the tender skin of the neck. Some drops splatter near the drain in the sink, evoking Hitchcockian memories of blood and drains. He is sure he can present a “normal” face to the world.

He has been doing it all his life, every day. At the end, we see Dexter pulled together, the complete look, as he leaves his apartment and heads out into the world in the harsh light of day. Over-determined, controlled, Dexter catches our eye and flashes an unconvincing but polite smile. Cordial without being warm. He knows we know, but nobody else does. Like Norman Bates, he shares with us his little secret. A common secret that makes us anxious nowadays: modern monsters are no longer visible to the naked eye.

Dexter’s effort in keeping his monstrosity under the cover of appearances expresses a pervasive anxiety similar to a hidden terrorists.

“stay neat, dress nicely, avoid attention.” .. He “took pride in being the best-dressed monster in Dade County”

The only moment he is caught off-guard is when the ice-truck killer leaves the body of a victim in the net of the Panther’s ice rink.

“It was beautiful – in a terrible sort of way, of course. But still, the arrangement was perfect, compelling, beautifully bloodless. It showed great wit and a wonderful sense of composition. Somebody had gone to a lot of trouble to make this into a real work of art. Somebody with style, talent and a morbid sense of playfulness.”

The others around him feel slightly dumb by comparison. He is about three steps ahead of the investigation and he attributes this to the fact that he thinks outside the box. Policeforce is used to putting everything into fitting patterns and when something new appears that does not fit the pattern, they find it hard to adjust and see where it could go. It’s interesting to watch how he feeds Deb information and how he talks to LaGuerta :

“Home or away?” he asks LaGuerta .

She thinks he is joking but he is deadly serious and very smart. Everything has a significance to Dexter. The rink meant that the ball was in their court now. The rearview mirror identified with the body was not a rushed job – was an actual hint that he was watching. They were after him but they didn’t catch him yet. They were being watches. Dexter was being watched. It was personal.

It happens; incompetence is rewarded more often than not.

The thrill of the hunt is what connects both and there is a small bond forming between them. I’m not going to spoil the book by revealing who the killer was but if you, like me, have watched the show, already know this.

The only notable difference from the show is that LaGuerta does not make it. She gets killed and Doakes gets framed for it.

Why I liked the story now even though I didn’t 13 years ago?

Dexter’s contradictory personality is like a mirror reflecting everyone and everything that surrounds him. When he asks himself “what was I?” he immediately answers: “a perfect imitation of human life”. This means he is a true reflection of today’s society. In his contradictions we can see ourselves. Like everyone else, he can build a careful life, be charming, socialize, stay neat and dress nicely, if he doesn’t mind pretending he is human. Consequently, he considers himself “a neat and polite monster, the boy next door.”

This closeness can be frightening, but at the same time very revealing, because this is the true monster’s role in Western mythology.

His past trauma made him a damaged being who is neither a man nor an animal, but something monstrous and different, that can therefore assume a human shape to show that he is often more human than the majority of people living in a repressive moral system. He can be a utopian and amoral sociopath, but he has a moral code with which he controls his Dark Passenger, his dark self – the darkest and most repressed part of human personality that we often avoid to recognize.

This explains Dexter’s loneliness and isolation, which reminds us of Frankenstein’s feeling of exclusion: “Nothing else loves me, or ever will (…) I am alone in the world, all alone, but for Deborah. Except, of course, for the Thing inside.”

However, this strangeness and distance from normal human beings is also what connects Dexter with his readers, who sympathise with his perspective while feeling uncomfortable about this intimate and strange connection with a serial killer, who makes them understand his motives to take justice into his own hands. This transgressive sympathy for the monster and subversive understanding of his actions began with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, where the representation of Gothic monstrosity caused a shift in sympathies and perspectives that allowed the monster to justify his monstrous behaviour, thus creating a deep empathy with the reader. Furthermore, the reader always wishes for that order and balance to be re-established, even if his hero uses Dexter’s peculiar method of making order out chaos. Ever dark element in Lindsay’s narrative evokes positive values through their negative counterparts. It is as if everyone has a double and everything is inverted and seen on the other side of the looking-glass. As Dexter says:

“It’s like, everything really is two ways, the way we all pretend it is and the way it really is.”

 


Jeff Lindsay is the author of the acclaimed Dexter novels, now adapted into an award-winning TV series. In addition, Jeff’s plays have been performed on the stage in New York and London. Outside of his writing, Jeff is a musician and karate enthusiast. He lives in Cape Coral, Florida, with his family.

Here are the Dexter novels in series order:

Darkly Dreaming Dexter
Dearly Devoted Dexter
Dexter in the Dark
Dexter by Design

 

Did you notice?

The title of Jeff Lindsay’s novel is itself representative of a kind of literary mode that is directly associated with the Gothic. Gothic fiction is known for the power its dark narratives hold in penetrating into the most obscure and irrational experiences of human existence to bring to the light of consciousness what had been kept secret and unconscious for a long period of time

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Book Reviews

Dark Places – Gillian Flynn

51imjknO8PL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I finished reading Gone Girl and I was shocked to find two other books by Gillian Flynn in my posession. Dark places and Sharp Objects. I finished Dark places last night and I must take a breather before I touch any other books. What an intense experience – it’s like living with a survivor of the Texas Chainsaw massacre for an entire week. It was like glimpsing into the abyss. It was like having to stare at somebody’s mutilated body without flinching or looking away. It was real enough to give me shivers.

This is the story of Libby Day, sole survivor of the Day massacre, where Ben Day, her brother, killed her mother and her two sisters.

Categories
Book Reviews Dean Koontz

The Husband * Dean Koontz Book Review

16429The premise of the novel sounded really exciting. A guy making a living as a gardner receives a call that his wife had been kidnapped. The ransom is $2m, money which he doesn’t have and doesn’t know how to get. He goes to his family but their ideas of raising their kids to not allow talks of lending money. He goes to his brother – the one that was always there for him – and he said he will help him.
This is where the book gave me a suckerpunch so good I was still riveting from it, 20 pages down the line.
Action packed and so very good, you would not want to put it down.

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Book Reviews Dean Koontz

Your heart belongs to me * Dean Koontz book review

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“I know you’re smart, clear-thinking, free of political dogma, and without envy. If I’m not safe with you, then I’m safe nowhere except alone in a room.”

If a man would tell me this, I would be definitely going for drinks later on with him.
Enter the world of DotCom billionaire Ryan Perry and his extraordinary story of paranoia and mistrust and a stalker that wants his heart. Literally.

Categories
Dean Koontz

By the Light of the Moon (Dean Koontz)

In By the Light of the Moon artist Dylan O’Connor is driving through Arizona with his autistic brother Shepherd, and decides to catch up on his sleep in a motel. But (as Hitchcock demonstrated) motels can be dangerous places, and Dylan is soon tied up, gagged and being pumped full of strange fluid by sinister doctor.
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I loved this book. Dean Koontz just rocks. I loved Dylan and Shep, and found myself wanting the perspective to change quickly back to Dylan, rather than Jilly.

While the two characters are unaware of each other they bump into one another shortly after escaping their bonds and are faced outside by a number of unmarked SUV’s. They manage to get away with Shep in tow and so begins a wonderful game of cat and mouse.

This book has plenty of great twists and is really well written. You got a great feel for the characters and while there is a supernatural element to proceedings, everything is well grounded.

I read recently that ‘By The Light Of The Moon’ is the most requested book by Koontz’s fans to receive a sequel. I have to say it’s not a surprise – whether it’s because the book is genuinely great or perhaps because of the unexpected turns it takes – this is probably the best Dean Koontz novel I’ve read.

The ending was a bit fast, however, with a bit of a cheesy “save the world” concept. I really wanted more. I even started trying to read a lot slower i read too fast :P) just to make the story longer.
I did notice they there seemed to be a few…what can I call them…blips? Not very noticeable, but I did get slightly confused at some points, as they seemed to be a void of a reaction by one of the characters to a particular action…(am really trying to not let spoilers go here..plus I can’t remember a proper example).
I do love Koontz style of having an entire book about, in this case : 18 hours…Other books i’ve read have been about 2 days, or just 24 hours. It’s quite amazing that. Though I did sort of think at one stage, that a few days had passed but then one of the characters said “yesterday” and I was shocked. I love the style but sometimes you can doubt the believeabilty of it. Really? So much in so little time?
And I am confused about the “folding” part of it…well, in particular, how the hell did Jilly get the hang of it???? I was so confused when she suddenly stated she was amazed about the sense of reality…then folded across the church by herself. :S
In fact, I think Dean Koontz made a few mistakes with Jilly. I think that is where he did the blips, the voids : Jilly. So, I think he preferred Shep and Dylan, and ended up rushing a few Jilly parts of some scenes.
And seriously, get together! Though, later, I did think 18 hours of madness (however mad and long it seemed) wasn’t long enough for a relationship, I suppose… I was waiting for something to occur in that sense though.
I really loved Shep and Dylan. Such epic characters.
Overall : the book just rocks. Get it. Seriously.


DEAN KOONTZ (1945 -) is perhaps best known as an American author of thriller/suspense novels with fantastic elements. Koontz has in fact written straight Science Fiction, at least early in his career. Later writings often feature recurring fantastic themes (like talking dogs). Another recurring topic is that of sociopathy. He returns to again and again, making him unique in the field of fantastic fiction writing. Some readers say his writing falls into the “Horror” genre though Koontz flatly denies this. Labels aside, a few things are very clear; he’s very prolific, intensely popular and definitely, completely and utterly askew from the mainstream – despite being so popular in it. Koontz’s audiobooks tend to be hard to find after their initial release – if you think you might want one, snap it up while you can. If you can find an older audiobook it will tend to be expensive – collector’s don’t give them up easily.