Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Venus Complex by Barbie Wilde

The Venus ComplexThe Venus Complex by Barbie Wilde
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Venus Complex is a provocative journey into a psychopathic consciousness that is one of the most gripping and disturbing mind trips I've read. Told in a journal entry style first person narration, the first time we meet Michael Friday is the recounting of his wife's death in a car accident. His wife was cheating on him, his accusation and her reaction bring about a clean definitive snap of his mind, from normal to implacable killer and here lies the beginning of a jaunt that nibbles the edges of sanity until there's only one possible outcome.

During his recovery, he experiences a kind of rage that transpires normal cohesive thought, rage at anything and everything, coupled with dreams of a sexual nature that interlace intense pleasure with violence. Then he starts to get bored, starts to look at serial killers and twelve months after the death of his wife, she takes her revenge in a disturbing dream that sees her bite his 'you know what' off. That's it he's flipped, he needs sex desperately and it’s off to find a prostitute, one that for a few extra dollars, agrees to be tied up, big mistake. His first, no, second kill but this is the one that intimately describes his thoughts and actions as he steals the woman's last breath.

That's it, job done, he's going to create a serial killer, all for the woman he's been stalking, Elene, his obsession, the psychologist who teaches at his school and also helps the police with profiling. Michael is an Art History Professor and his research now, serial killers, biographies, avoiding capture.

This is consensual sex ending in orgasm, autoerotic asphyxiation taken to a lethal end, exquisitely described, I would say beautifully described but at the end of the day, it's murder and sounds slightly wrong. Michael is clever, there's defined process all the way through his indulgence, making sure the victim receives the ultimate pleasure as she takes her last breath, right up to the point of a massive clean-up operation and his victim, left artistically posed. His Venus Complex, profession inspiring his new and exciting hobby, and Venus is of course the goddess of love.

'Never did she look lovelier than in death, because what is life but an eager rushing towards the terrible inevitability of oblivion? Death is the great peace and we shall all embrace it with eager joy.'

A dark, erotically laced glimpse, no, glare into a killers mind, a mind you simply don't want to leave and you can't help liking the guy, you don't want him to get caught, you might even want him to continue his game, OK I'll admit I did but only because he's such a disturbingly audacious character and the writing is absolutely sublime. The explicit murder recitals are completely riveting, delicate and passionate, erotic and unsettling, the Professor's dreams and nightmares are as enthralling as his rants, obsessive behaviour and descent into the chasm of Paraphilia and lust murder. Finally the ending, unexpected, titillating, fulfilling, for our protagonist anyway and bloody perfect, find out for yourself.

Highly recommended.

Also posted at http://paulnelson.booklikes.com/post/...

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Gator Bait by Adam Howe

Gator BaitGator Bait by Adam Howe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'A fly buzzed around his open, largely toothless mouth; drool dangled from his bottom lip like a limp lasso.'

A typical customer at The Grinnin’ Gator.

Gator Bait is a novella by Adam Howe set in the Louisiana swamp and The Grinnin’ Gator, a saw dust on the floor type bar with dirty booze, strippers and dodgy music. A place where you watch your step unless you want to end up as both lunch and desert for the big mouthed occupant of the water that this friendly bar sits over.

John Smith or Mr Hammond in a previous life is a top quality piano player, or he was right up until a jealous husband chopped off two of his fingers with a cigar cutter. Now he's on the run because said husband is dead and unfortunately he ends up at The Grinnin’ Gator, where there's a one legged owner called Horace Croker. One leg because George the gator took it for a snack and he's now the avenue for any trouble via a push from the patio or worst case, the hidden trapdoor.

So we have Johnny Smith now playing piano minus two fingers, Croker the boss, his beautiful wife Grace, who's a dreadful tease it has to said and big old George, always hungry, big teeth.

'She started backing from the room— but as she pulled the door closed she shot me another glance that shivered down my spine like footsteps on the grave.'

A wicked tale of dirty swamp noir, degenerate skank infested, sweat ridden, mosquito riddled dump of amoral intemperance. Where everyone's got an angle to play and the twists don't always go the way you expect. The only question? Who's gonna get fucked.

Also posted at http://paulnelson.booklikes.com/post/...

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Skullcrack City

Skullcrack CitySkullcrack City by Jeremy Robert Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Corporate slave S.P. Doyle, whose best friends are his pet turtle and his Hex addiction, sees conspiracies everywhere linking his bank to some unspeakable evil. When he's framed for murder, his conspiracies don't seem so far fetched anymore...

First off, I really hate elevator pitches but this is Office Space meets Breaking Bad meets Cthulhu.

I've lost some of my bizarro sensitivity over the years but this one was pretty strange. Doyle takes the mind-warping drug Hex and soon finds himself involved with a sinster corporation and the extra-dimensional evil it's linked to. Jeremy Robert Johnson takes some urban fantasy tropes and burns them into a fine ash before snorting them.

The writing is several notches above most bizarro fare and it has a lot of momentum once it's revealed Doyle is actually on to something and not just a burned out addict. Doyle reads like a drug-addled version of Arthur Dent, kind of a clueless guy in way over his head. There was some insta-love I didn't care for but the supporting cast was interesting when they weren't dying in horrible ways.

Aside from the previously-mentioned insta-love, the only part I didn't really care for was the end. All things considered, Skullcrack City was a cracking good read. Four out of five stars.

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