David O. Rice has written several thrillers exploring the divide between good and evil. Here he offers an exceedingly violent, sexually graphic portrait of a serial killer.
The book opens with a treatise about the moral degradation of society, citing political leaders, celebrities, beauty pageants, and more. The plot begins at the North Bay Yachting Club in Cleveland, where a secret society of swingers engages in orgies. A coupling of four people results in the birth of Michael Brewer, the novel’s central character.
Exposed to graphic sex acts at a young age, Michael is raised by his nanny, a gentle, older woman who later takes his virginity, which instantaneously causes her to become, according to the narrator, “an immoral, demonic bitch.” Michael becomes a licensed social worker, and with his inheritance opens a children’s foundation. He quickly seduces, rapes and strangles his work partner.
From here, the book vacillates between graphic consensual sexual encounters and brutal rape/murder scenes. Michael travels to St. Thomas, where he rapes and murders tourist Brenda Carpenter, then counterintuitively contributes to the fund in her memory. He then meets Brenda’s sister, Barbara, a virgin with whom he falls in love. When Michael mistakenly thinks Barbara has cheated on him, he spirals into madness.
Even outside of its graphic, stomach-turning sex scenes, the quality of the book’s prose is problematic. Long passages of exposition tell rather than show; the dialogue is stiff and unnatural, and the female characters are wildly unrealistic, as are other moments. Before he meets Barbara, we read this outrageous statement: “Michael was slightly apprehensive about meeting the woman whose sister he had raped, mutilated and murdered so violently just a short while ago.”
A final author’s note claims that the story doesn’t condone violence, but also blames women for putting themselves at risk. Readers should be forewarned that this supposedly erotic thriller features gleeful misogyny and brutality that makes Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho look like Goodnight, Moon.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.