I don’t like serial killer stories. Read them only if there is some other compelling reason to. (Like maybe because it was written by Declan Hughes.) Serial killer stories are the lazy writer’s way to build tension, creating a villain with the conscience of a shark and a psyche that is screwed up in some inexplicable manner no one would believe, but the author gets away with because the killers actions and motivations don’t have to make sense, he’s clearly completely nuts or he wouldn’t be a serial killer! Serial killers most often prey on women, almost always relatively young and attractive women, which is another cheat.
I could go on, but my bona fides have been established: I don’t like serial killer stories. I probably would not have read Ben Sobieck’s Cleansing Eden had I paid enough attention to know it was a serial killer story. I read it because people whose taste I trust kept recommending it, and I’d recently finished a collection of his Maynard Soloman stories, which I enjoyed a great deal. So I got a few pages in and realized, “Bugger. This is a serial killer story.” The quality of the writing was good, and Sobieck had earned a little patience on my part, so I hung with it. Got to wondering what happened next. Pretty soon I was hooked.
Cleansing Eden is not your basic John Sanford serial killer story.
First, this guy doesn’t have some bizarre compulsion to kill. He has a plan, and killing is the means to his desired end. Yes, it’s a crazy plan, but, let’s face it, he’s a serial killer. He’s entitled.
He’s also rational enough not to dirty his hands. He acts as Svengali to a much younger man, who does his killing for him. Don’t think Charles Manson; this DC sniper territory. The victims aren’t tortured to death. No murder is pretty, but the purpose here is to kill them, not gratify himself sexually. Remember, the deaths are only means to an end.
What is that end? Read the book. Sobieck makes it easy for you. His prose reads easily, and amount of disbelief you have to suspend never becomes a burden. The juxtaposition of points of view from the killer to a cop to a TV paparazzi journalist keeps the reader half a step ahead of the action without knowing for sure what the action will be. Cleansing Eden is a fine first novel from a writer whose take on a hackneyed genre is fresh and will leave you looking forward to what he comes up with next.
Cleansing Eden is available for Kindle for only $3.99, or free for Amazon Prime members.