REVIEW by Jason Denness CRUMBLING UTOPIAN PIPEDREAM
What da cover says: Crumbling Utopian Pipedream is a book of poems born of the streets. It unflinchingly celebrates gritty realism while detailing some of life’s hard won battles, and continually urges the reader to face the obstacles life puts in our way, and to realize that we have the strength to overcome any and all hardships. What I says: I was very impressed by this collection of poetry, the opening poems felt like this was a confession of sorts, violence, drugs and drink were the main topics, gradually things got bleaker from there. After a while I realised this wasn’t a confession, Wozniak is telling the reader what life is like for many people, and telling those sufferers that you can overcome these things, it will be tough but all these trials will only make you stronger. The final poem “My Brain off Drugs” felt incredibly honest and finished off the collection perfectly.
Other high points here were a possible poem for Brexit, “So Many Choices, So Little Time” calls for people to rise up from this catastrophe and create your own destiny. One of the best was “Crumbling Utopian Pipedream” the lines are short, so few words are used but somehow Wozniak manages to capture the readers imagination and you can instantly see what he is writing about. If you ever wandered what a poem would be like if it was written as society is ending then Crumbling Utopian Pipedream would be it. Wozniak has some very clever titles and my favourite poem has one of the best, “Depends on Which Side of the Flames You’re On”, that poem is so good, a contender for my favourite poem of 2019. You should grab a copy of this book even if it’s just for that one poem.
The taps of painted fingernails on a wooden counter top caught my attention a while ago. Every fifth run, she paused -- as if she had something better to do -- only to resume the clattering of cuticles. I sat in the waiting room, feeling safe in the knowledge that I was invisible to the other self-absorbed patients. No one took any notice of me. My brown hair and eyes blended in with the sterile polyester of the furniture.
The receptionist kept her eyes glued to the clock on the wall with her tapping still out of sync with the tick of the clock.
Of course, she didn’t recognise me, let alone acknowledge my existence. Why would she? She’s only seen me walk down the same corridor every day in the past year. She didn’t know who I was, and unlike those Disney clichés, there was no happy ending here.
The cool steel of the Walther P22 felt even colder now against my thigh. It wasn’t my first choice of gun, but the online sale had seemed like a good omen.
I didn’t want to kill her, only make her notice me.
I’ve been different for so long: too old, too smart, and too British. Now I was invisible? It couldn’t be true. I had to speak to her to let her know who I was and that I had a voice worth listening to.
When I ran out of ways and reasons to speak to her in our building, I settled on the building where she was seen all the time.
I’d asked why she left so early in the morning and came back so late. With a strange and startled expression, she told me that she was a receptionist at this clinic. That happened only once where I asked about her personal life, otherwise the stilted encounters revolved around the mail and the weather — so terribly British.
Once I found out where she worked, it wasn’t difficult to find her. Though when she didn’t even recognise me the first time I came here, it did hurt. Her eyes had a non-existent glaze as she handed me my paperwork without so much as a smile. It was a smile that reminded me of my mother. I should’ve probably given her a call, but the long-distance line was the perfect excuse — she was too old to figure out Skype.
Even if I did talk to her, what was I supposed to say? I’ve spent the last year stalking my neighbour because I can’t have her, can’t get enough of her, and loathe my desperate need to touch her?
The time has come. Not having her isn’t an option any more. I will be heard.
This is my third visit. And my last. I don’t want to kill her. But I want her to notice me — realise I will not be ignored any longer.
A single magazine will be more than enough for what I’m about to do…
Look at how she smiles at some random people next in line. Her auburn hair falls delicately over her shoulders, and I’m sure the perfect curve of her lips is as mesmerising for the new patients as it is for me. She never did grant me that courtesy. Every time I saw her, it was polite but distant.
Doesn't she know how I feel about her? She doesn’t make it easy for me.
We live on the same floor; we see each other every day. We’ve had seven conversations outside of this clinic over the last three years, but still, she will not give me the chance.
What’s a guy got to do to get noticed?
The finger tapping suddenly stops. She’s talking to a pair of men who just walked in. Oh God, they’re holding hands. An abomination. They’re probably getting their weekly AIDS check-up. At least in Britain, people like that have the sense to keep it private, bloody good, British stiff-upper-lip. The cool steel against my leg sparks an epiphany; I have enough ammunition to make the world a slightly better place.
I toy with the idea as I watch the tide of people wash up into America’s medical miracle. The gay couple keeps looking at their watches and muttering about something of little importance. She gives them a reassuring grin. That alone is enough to set off the trigger that’s leaving an imprint on my thigh.
How can she care when she doesn’t even know them? Unlike them, I’m not a complete stranger. She knows me! But she won’t even acknowledge my presence. Again, I’ve been ignored, forgotten, and unwanted. I’ve faded into the background as just another patient.
I’ve got to continue turning my life around: from bullied to bully, from an extra to the protagonist of my own story, and the villain in hers. What else is there for one to be noticed? Is there anything worse than being ignored, as if my mere presence isn’t enough, as if my existence is an inconvenience in someone else’s life?
Sweat trickles down my neck, darkening the blue of my collar. My eyes widen as the incomprehensible social situation unfolds in front of me. I don’t know how to react. I need privacy — possibly a bathroom — where I can pull the gun from my trousers, put it in my hand, and shoot until all the rage has left me. I need to…
‘Roger Thomas Stearns?’
The violent fantasy is cut short by the name she refuses to recognise. It takes me a second to realise that now is the perfect opportunity to leave the waiting room for somewhere more secluded. I stand up and raise my hand in acknowledgement of the doctor calling my name. It is the polite and right thing to do after all. My doctor is a female, which isn’t my personal preference, but they do let anyone practice medicine these days.
When I sit down on the bed as instructed, I hear the overly familiar words, ‘how can I help you today?’
I’m told to get undressed behind a curtain to hide my dignity. I strip, feeling degraded by the thin, flimsy barrier. I can almost imagine my female doctor looking through and secretly laughing at me. While my body becomes more exposed to the sterile air of the clinic, I allow myself a minute to close my eyes and think of caressing the firm lips of the receptionist. I taste her skin on my tongue as she pulls away from me in fear.
With the barrel of the gun, I stroke her auburn hair, and she begs for freedom. As the tears fall from her green eyes, she calls out my name, the name she’s ignored for years. And it becomes painfully obvious that every word out of her mouth is a lie. She has no idea who I am but only knows that I now wield power. Now I’m worth noticing. And I won’t let her forget it.
Still behind the flimsy curtain, I open my eyes and unstrap the Walther P22 from my thigh. The metal slides from my perspiration. Standing in nothing but my socks, I’m vaguely aware of my hard-on but won’t let it distract me. The shape of the doctor’s body can barely be seen through the curtain and her words are indiscernible. I take aim, fervently hoping I’ll be protected from the spray of blood.
I pull the trigger once.
The explosion fires from my hand towards the unsuspecting doctor. Not taking another shot, I walk to the door, which opens onto the waiting room. My ears are ringing, and I cannot hear the people scream. I can only make out their mouths opening in horror as they face my power.
Steadily, I take another aim to rid the world of the abhorrence still stupid enough to be holding hands.
The world is silent, and I can’t focus on a single sound. The only thing I feel is the heat of the gun in my hands. I used up three of my ten rounds. I have made my point; I have made myself noticeable. And as I stand in the waiting room, naked but for my socks and with the gun held high, I search for the receptionist who has pushed me to my limit.
The other patients move around me as I walk towards the counter, shrinking to become invisible. How the roles have reversed! It feels oddly peaceful to be the centre of attention. It’s true. Revenge is sweet.
I find her trembling beneath the desk. It’s difficult to fight the smile that’s overtaking my face, especially as I notice the blood dripping from my body for the first time. It’s the same colour as her hair, and I’m drawn to the similarities.
No, I can’t be distracted.
I do have something to say before I pull the trigger.
‘Goodbye Danielle,’ I snort.
Chunks of her brain splatter the wall behind where she’s been sitting. It sounds almost musical as each piece hits the wall. Maybe, I didn’t need her after all. Maybe, I just wanted her dead. Whatever will my mother say?
INDIE BOOK RECOMMENDATION FLINT RANCH BY JETTE HARRIS
EXCERPT FROM FLINT RANCH
description of Flint Ranch
With one tragic event, Thatch’s idyllic childhood playing with the horses on his uncle’s ranch turns into nine years of hard labor, torture, and fighting to prevent his mother from suffering the same. He only finds comfort in the moments he steals away with his beloved horses.
But Thatch grows tall, nine years of hard labor makes him strong, and finding a refuge at school—despite being a pariah among his peers—makes him clever. When he realizes this potential and uses it to combat his abuser, the retaliation is swift and merciless, leading them both to commit unforgivable acts that will change Thatch’s life forever.
April, 1973 Age 11
The hinges squeaked as Thatch opened the bedroom door. The sound was barely audible, but to Thatch it was as loud as a siren, alerting his uncle of the intruder. He froze, his hand on the doorknob, straining to listen, but the house was empty; Jed was breaking a new horse, and his mother was washing linens. He eased the door open, just wide enough for him to slip inside.
Jed’s room was cold and smelled like the inside of an old leather boot. Judy had already gathered the dirty laundry from the floor. Jed never spent enough time awake in his own room to make a mess, although he never hesitated to make a mess of his nephew’s. Thatch glanced around, searching for something that would not be missed. He had already stolen a pair of boots he had never seen Jed wear, a vase that only held dead stems, and an antique spittoon that had never been cleaned out.
Thatch pulled back the curtain to peer out the window. He had a perfect view of his mother hanging sheets on the line. An unidentifiable emotion stirred in his chest, torn between melancholy and anger. She had barely spoken to him for years. Years of silent Sunday dinners, joyless Christmases, bitter birthdays. Why did she have to shut him out like that?
Judy returned to the laundry basket. The other sheets were perfect, pristine, white. The fitted sheet she pulled out next was covered in red and brown stains–his sheet. He closed his eyes, face burning with shame. Last night had been especially bad. She had to wash that out and hang it on the line like the flag of some victorious conqueror. A sound drifted up to him. He opened his eyes to see his mother, face pressed into the sheet, drop to her knees. Linens forgotten, she bowed to the ground and sobbed.
Thatch swallowed the lump in his throat and wiped away some tears. His chest was tight. Taking a deep breath, he glanced around. His eyes landed on a framed black-and-white photo on top of the dresser. Jed and Aunt Betty, dressed in their wedding finery, smiled fixedly at him. Thatch clenched his teeth. Surely Jed would miss it, but Thatch didn’t care: It would be in pieces and buried by the time he noticed.
Rising on his toes, Thatch snatched it from the dresser, leaving an outline in the thick dust. He spun toward the door, but froze mid-step. His heart pounded against his ribs. Jed stood in the doorway. His cold grey eyes stared down his nose at the boy. His jaw clenched and unclenched, but his face remained expressionless. He took a deep breath.
“Where you goin’ with that–boy?”
Thatch could not move, breathe, or think. He attempted to answer, but his mouth would not cooperate. His muscles were twisted and tense.
“I asked you a question.” Jed took a step toward him. Every fiber in Thatch’s body screamed for him to run, but there was nowhere to go. Jed’s immense stature filled the doorway. Thatch’s ragged breathing finally pulled enough oxygen for his brain to function. He swallowed.
“Pl-plinking. I was gonna use it for… for target practice.”
The smile that twisted across Jed’s face was more fearsome than any scowl. “Give it here, boy.” He held out his hand.
Thatch surrendered it, trying not to get too close, but Jed grabbed his wrist, crushing and twisting, before taking the frame. Thatch fought a child-like cry. Jed scrutinized the photo as if he had never seen it before. Given the amount of dust on it, that was possible.
“So, you’re telling me, you were gonna use my face for target practice, huh?”
“Yes.” Thatch’s voice trembled with tears.
“To shoot at?”
“Yes.” The word came out firmer this time.
“Do you want to shoot me, boy?”
Anger rose in his throat, overwhelming his fear and springing out of his mouth: “Yes!”
Jed’s eyes widened with surprise and flickered over him, then returned to the photo. His gaze fell upon the shiny frame. “And what about the silver, huh?”
“The silver frame. What were you gonna do with it?”
“I already told you!”
Jed twisted Thatch’s arm. “Do you know how much this is worth?”
“You expect me to believe you are gonna shoot at—to destroy—this silver, then just throw it away, huh?”
Jed swung the frame into Thatch’s head. The glass cracked, taking some of his hair as he reeled. He would have fallen were it not for Jed’s iron grip on his wrist.
“Stop lyin’ to me!”
“I’m not!” The frame hit his head again. The glass shattered, shards cutting into his scalp and raining onto the floor.
“Did that little Red girl put you up to this?” Jed screamed, “Are you fuckin’ her, boy?”
“What?” The unfamiliar word jarred Thatch out of his panic enough to process the correct response: “No!”
“Are you still lyin’ to me?” Jed threw the broken frame against the wall.
Jed slammed his fist into Thatch’s head. The boy hit the ground, his skull cracking against the hardwood. His mind grew foggy; He did not want to get up again. Maybe this time, if he didn’t move, Jed would stop. Maybe this time…
Thatch gasped. Head spinning, he pushed himself up on his elbows to find his mother standing in the doorway. Jed grabbed her by the throat and slammed her into the wall.
“Ma!” Thatch jumped to his feet. The room reeled and lurched, almost sending him back to the floor. His mother was turning purple. Jumping, Thatch threw himself on Jed’s back, wrapping his arms around his uncle’s thick neck.
Jed tossed Judy aside. Grabbing at the boy’s head, he clutched his arm and pulled him loose. He slammed Thatch’s body against the wall until he lost his grip. The boy fell, face-down. The floor knocked the remaining breath out of him. Jed grabbed Thatch’s hair and began to slam his forehead against the hardwood.
Thatch’s view oscillated from his mother to the red stain blooming on the floor under his face. Judy raised her head, her fingers creeping toward him. Thatch’s mind went blank before he could reach her.
All Thatch could feel was pressure, against his back and inside of him, the rhythmic pushing and pulling, then a pause. The pressure disappeared as Jed stood. Pulling the straps of his overalls back over his shoulders, he left the room without a word.
Consciousness crept up on him. Thatch didn’t know if it was evening or morning, but dusky light filtered in through the curtains. He may have been staring at his door for several hours. It may have been a few minutes. He didn’t remember ever seeing it closed before. Beyond it, he could hear a woman sobbing.
Thatch grunted to confirm he was still alive. He attempted to move his head, but his neck was so stiff, he abandoned the idea. He lay on his stomach across his bed. He could not remember how he got there, but flashes of what followed shot through his mind. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to block them out.
One arm dangled off the edge of the bed. Slowly, he curled and uncurled his fingers. The third finger refused to move, sending searing pain into his knuckle. He attempted to move his other arm from above his head. It was numb. He dragged it down to his side and sensation returned with fiery pins and needles. When he moved his legs, a tearing sensation shot between them and up his back, making him cry out.
Thatch gave up attempting to move. He began to cry, although the heaving sobs wracked him with pain. ***
Jed had put a padlock on the door. Once, sometimes twice a day, usually in the morning, he would visit. These visits were Thatch’s only method of telling time. He would begin to cry the moment the hasp scraped. He wished for death, that the pain would kill him. It never did.
After Jed thumped downstairs, a mouse-like footfall would scurry to the door. The padlock would shift, but held. Jed was too careful. A red-rimmed blue eye would peer through the hole where the knob should have been. Thatch was in too much pain to move. It was painful enough clutching for the sheet to cover his naked body. All he could do to protect his mother now was close his eyes, force together his cracked lips, and pretend to snore.
A bucket had been placed by the bed for him to use as a toilet. He could barely move, and often reached it too late, or missed it altogether. When Jed visited, he would toss the contents out the window. He never brought food. After peering into Thatch’s glassy eyes, he brought a bucket of water and left it on the dresser. Thatch managed to pull himself up and shove his face into the water, lapping it like a dog.
His captivity felt like forever. In reality, it was only six days. Thatch’s freedom was uneventful. He hadn’t noticed Jed had left the door open until he bellowed up the stairs.
“Boy! Get yer lazy ass outside! The stalls haven’t been mucked all week!”
Thatch’s eyes shot open. His breath caught in his throat. It had to be a trick.
The horses must be miserable. Thatch clung to this thought. He swallowed his bitterness and fear. Clenching his teeth against the pain, he lowered himself off the edge of the bed, crouching until sure his legs could support his weight.
He tugged his waste-crusted sheets and blanket from the bed and piled them by the door. He was able to pull on a button-up shirt and jeans, but his torso and legs were too sore to bend over and pull on socks. Half-limping, half-dragging himself, he made it downstairs. He stepped into his boots and paused at the back door. Outside, Jed was tossing bales of hay off the bed of his pick-up. Thatch waited, hand on the door knob, for him to finish and move farther away.
A gasp and a thud made him turn. The wrenching motion radiated pain throughout his body, making him see stars. When they cleared, his mother was standing on the threshold of the kitchen, the laundry basket at her feet and a hand over her mouth.
His breath came in ragged gasps. His lips began to tremble. Judy kicked past the basket and pulled him into her arms. His entire body felt bruised and sore, but he clung to her, fighting the urge to cry again.
“Oh, my poor boy,” she sobbed. “My baby boy…” She ran her fingers through the hair on the back of his head, and he buried his face against her shoulder. She kissed his forehead above the contusion that spread across it. “I love you,” she whispered. “I’m so—”
“—fuck’re you doin’, huh?” Jed threw open the back door. They sprang apart. “Did you hear me, boy? Get out there and get to work!”
Judy’s fingers trailed down his arm. She squeezed his hand before they parted. Jed leered at her, his hand flat as if he were going to raise it to slap her, but he did not. At least, not as Thatch was heading out the door.
Virgil Roanhorse, Flint Ranch’s senior ranch hand, leaned on a pitchfork by the stable door. He was a short, sturdy, bronze-faced man who wore his black hair in a braid down his back. He kept a cool demeanor, unless he was cracking one of his rare jokes, but there was shock in his eyes when his gaze fell upon the boy. Thatch kept his face toward the ground as he passed.
“I fell off a horse,” he lied. No matter what he said, Thatch knew Virgil would know the truth. There was no way he couldn’t. Thatch fought to walk properly as he passed the stalls. It brought him no comfort to step inside; The stable smelled rank with mildew and manure.
“What’re you doing?” Virgil asked as Thatch reached for the shovel.
“Jed told me to muck out the stalls.” Thatch placed a hand on the handle, unsure whether he would be able to wrap his fingers around it.
“No, no, son,” Virgil said. “Brush down the horses.”
“Jed’s gone to get feed.” He confiscated the shovel and handed Thatch the brush. “He told me to tell you, I will muck out the stalls, and you’re to brush down the horses.”
Thatch closed his eyes and waited for the tears of gratitude to fade. He couldn’t force the words past the lump in his throat, but he mouthed them: “Thank you.”
Thatch didn’t know when he would be able to ride again. Never, his youthful sense of permanence told him, not with the tearing sensation he experienced any time he swung his gait a little too wide. Too sore to go on his own and too injured to ride, he pulled Archie out to lean on. The horse walked extra-slow, pausing occasionally to nibble dandelions so Thatch could rest.
On the far end of the ranch, where no one but horses ever wandered, three posts had been driven into the ground. Broken glass and rusty cans lay scattered around their bases. An old saddle, worn and flaking, lay on the ground thirty yards in front of them. Thatch sighed with relief when he noticed a small rifle leaning upon it. His trip had not been wasted. He didn’t expect to see anyone when he looked around, but he did so anyway. After a few failed attempts, he whistled a short tune. A small girl materialized out of the woods.
Virginia Roanhorse, two years younger than Thatch, was small and sturdy like her father. Her dark hair looked as if her mother lopped it to the chin with kitchen shears every month or so. She moved silently, her footfalls nothing more than a soft breeze over the grass. When Thatch stepped out from behind of the horse, Ginny’s eyes went wide. Her hands flew to her mouth.
“I waited,” she said in a small, tight voice. “When I came to see what was taking so long, I heard screaming…”
Thatch lowered his head. “He caught me,” he confessed. His lie about falling off a horse would not have worked with her anyway; She knew him too well.
He took Archie to the fence and tied him off. Ginny mercifully did not ask him to elaborate. Seeing her brought the memory back into clear light: Despite what he told Jed, she had been part of the reason Thatch had been in his room. A question tugged at his mind as he returned to her. “Ginny, what does fucken mean?”
“Fucken,” she repeated under her breath. “Oh! Fucking! It’s a curse word, means to have sex, to fuck.”
“Sex?” He heard this word at school, but had only a vague concept of what it meant.
“Oh.” Thatch blushed. Why would Jed accuse him of doing something like that with her? She was far too young to be useful. As he applied the term to humans, the image in his head fell into place. Fucking. That was what Jed was doing, he was fucking him. A painful jolt shot through his belly as he imagined himself using her the way Jed used him. Grimacing, he turned and limped toward the old saddle. Now the word made sense: Fuck. Short, hard, painful.
“Something Jed said. Don’t ask… please.”
“Where have you been all week?”
“Grounded.” He looked at the posts mournfully. His rifle was not in its place on the rack. “I forgot my rifle,” he lied, “and I didn’t bring anything to shoot at.”
“What was it you tried to steal?”
“A photo… in a frame.”
Ginny’s eyes widened. She stepped close, reaching into her pocket. “I pulled this out of the trash.” She pulled out a wad of paper and unfolded it. Blood rushed into Thatch’s face as she held the wedding photo out to him. “You can use my rifle.”
About the author - Jette Harris
Jette Harris writes heart-pounding, multi-genre serial killer narratives.
Born and raised in Atlanta, she graduated from Mercer University with degrees in English and German. After teaching for three years, she jumped into the private sector. She is now a writer, editor, and writing coach in addition to her full-time job.
THE PHANTOM OF VEGAS SHORT STORY FROM ORIGIN OF A SERIAL KILLER
THE PHANTOM OF VEGAS
The elevator jolts to a halt, and I grip my purse to check if I forgot the knife in the limo. I tap my foot, waiting for the door to open, and sigh. What can be the delay? The club isn’t open tonight, so there shouldn’t be people on this floor of the hotel. Saul made assurances everything would run on schedule. The bell chimes, and the doors spring open.
Saul motions for me to follow and leads me into a private VIP area with a double set of glass doors that faces the street. A still gust pushes against me when Saul opens the doors. At this height, on floor twenty-two of a certain casino hotel tower, one must be careful not to get blown over the side by the wind.
A man is tied to the balcony with an envelope taped to his back. He’s forced and bound by rope to look down at the pedestrians and traffic of Las Vegas Boulevard. Joining him, I watch the blur of lights and listen to the horns and screams of the city. He can’t move to acknowledge me, but his eye twitches. I know he’s aware of my presence.
“Did you bring a signed confession?”
The man nods, and I rip the envelope free from the tape. Removing the paper, I read an account of this man’s crimes and tale of punishment. The government let him out on parole after some time in jail for rape and an assortment of other charges.
“Do you admit guilt?” I ask, signaling to Saul. Music begins to play that I must strain to hear over the wind. The man nods in the affirmative.
I hum alone with the music. “…the phantom of the opera.”
A vein twitches in his neck, and I unzip my purse. Gripping the knife in my palm, I take a position directly behind him.
“What happened to the woman you raped?”
I hear wind and music but no words from the rapist. When I signal once more to Saul, the music stops. Pushing myself closer to him, I ask my question again.
Letting out a whistle, I snap open the blade and lift it toward the back of his neck. “And yet, here you are out on parole. Sounds like a good deal for you.”
I wait for a response, but there is nothing. No words. No answer from this man out of jail for rape and murder. I place the blade against his neck.
“Any final words before I pass judgement?”
“I did my time.” He attempts to face me, but the restraints prevent it. I expect more, but he adds nothing to his statement.
“Allow me to respond,” I say with my lips against his ear. “Your parole has been revoked. You have a choice. Violate parole and return to jail or…I think you can figure out the other option.”
I sigh, “It’s simple. You leave the city limits. I place an anonymous call to police. You will be taken into custody and returned to jail. Or you can face my justice. What is your choice?”
“I want to live.”
Without hesitation, I answer, “So did the woman you murdered.”
I slice the blade across his throat. Blood sprays over the balcony and falls in slow motion towards the street. Grabbing the paper confession, I stuff it into a pocket before cutting him free from the duct tape and rope. I laugh as the body falls to the cement. Saul rushes to my side and lifts the man, hurling him over the edge. With a hand on the railing, I watch the body fall and crash onto the sidewalk below. The faint echo of screams rise on the wind, and pedestrians run in all directions away from the body.
Saul places a hand on my upper arm and pulls me away from the balcony. “We need to go.”
Leading me to private employee elevator, Saul whisks me through hidden hallways to a side entrance of the casino. With a smile, I walk to the limo waiting at the curb. George holds open the door, and I hear music.
Phantom of the Opera. I place a leg into the limo but stop to lock eyes with George. “Bring me all the men paroled for rape in Vegas. Every single last fucking one of them.”
ORIGIN OF A SERIAL KILLER A COLLECTION OF ELLA THOMAS SHORT FICTION GO INSIDE THE MIND OF A KILLER COMING SOON FROM MORAN PRESS
WANT MORE ELLA? CLICK THE COVER IMAGE GET A SIGNED COPY OF ELLA BY STEPHEN MORAN
I can't recall if it was the exquisite cover art or the cheeky character of Ella that first captured my attention on Twitter, perhaps both. What was it about this enigmatic beauty that delighted and intrigued me? And then I purchased and read the book by Stephen Moran and understood my fascination.
Let's be clear. Ella Thomas is not your typical heroine, no cardboard cut-out she. What the author has created is a fabulously-flawed and deviously-delicious flesh and blood persona, a woman on a mission of discovery and destruction. In the hands of a lesser writer, this book might fall into the category of 'just another book about a serial killer' but this could not be further from the truth. Beautifully-crafted, the book's locales are detailed for texture but never ponderous, the flashbacks both terrifying and poignant, a remarkable feat given the subject matter.
This book is mesmerizing mayhem from beginning to end, one I shall read again and highly recommend. More please, Mr. Moran.