This stylish, darkly funny psychological debut thriller set in New York City is about a struggling writer forced to play detective in a real-life murder mystery plot, after a convicted serial killer—who claims to be innocent—hires him to write his memoir. All Harry Bloch knows about catching a serial killer is what he has learned from his own books. An unknown writer, Harry churns out pulp novels under a variety of pseudonyms. But Harry’s life takes a sudden dramatic turn and begins to resemble the plot of one of his crime novels when a convicted serial killer known as the Photo Killer asks Harry to write his memoir.
Soon, several women are murdered in the Photo Killer’s signature style, just hours after Harry interviews them, and he becomes a suspect. Or is he the killer’s next target? The novel follows his quest to find the real killer, a search that turns up much more than he could have imagined.
©2010 David Gordon (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
This is a dark and stylish literary page-turner about a struggling New York writer who’s forced to play detective in a real-life murder mystery, after a convicted serial killer hires him to write his memoir—and three young women turn up dead.
“David Gordon has gathered up our cultural trash and made of it something magnificent. . . .The Serialist makes high art out of serial murders, pornography, soup dumplings, and pulp fiction. I adore this book!” (Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances)
The Serialist is an entertainingly wicked debut. A literary pulp fiction that flays and skewers post-Millennial New York and along the way reinvents the American detective novel. David Gordon has arrived, brash, irreverent and indecently talented." (Evan Wright, author of Generation Kill)
For a very long time, The Serialist was the ultimate "bridesmaid" book for me -- always next in line to be read, only to be left at the altar when the time came to make a selection.
Happily, when I finally made the commitment to this novel, I found something I really loved.
This book is terrific on a host of different levels:
-- Reader. Bronson Pinchot is great, great, great. It's one of those rare books where character development is spectacularly advanced by the reader's talent. In my mind's eye, I could visualize even the facial expressions and body language of the characters.
-- Intelligence. This is a smart book. It begins in a manic manner, bouncing off the walls like Robin Williams in his "Mork and Mindy" days. I initially thought that this would be similar to Josh Bazell's "Wild Thing," and, I suppose, in some ways it is. Only better.
Actually, once "The Serialist" settles down, a better comparison is probably Steve Hamilton's "The Lock Artist," not so much for its style (although both are told in the first person) as for its originality. The Serialist works because there is really nothing else like it.
-- Complexity. The book feels like a set of Russian matryoshka dolls, with one story line nesting inside another, which surrounds another. Each is unique, but each fits perfectly around or inside the others.
-- Pushing boundaries. There are a number of uncomfortable spots in this book that will make you squirm. Some authors approach challenging material by conveying momentum toward a very uncomfortable spot, then veering away at the last moment -- the goal being to leave the reader relieved that we didn't go where it looked like we might go.
Other writers tromp into uncomfortable areas like a "Friday the 13th" movie, delighting in what is awful as an end unto itself.
Gordon takes a third approach, edging up to the line, pausing for dramatic effect, then crossing it briefly before heading in a different direction. The effect is actually quite powerful. He made me very, very uncomfortable in a few spots. Yet, each such moment served an important purpose.
Which brings me to the best part ...
-- This is a book about writing a book. I'm not an English teacher, but this book is an English teacher's dream. The Serialist speaks of the power of words and then demonstrates the power of words. How cool is that?!?
The Serialist isn't literature, but it's not pulp fiction either. It's simply a great read. And maybe my favorite book of the year. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
I love Bronson Pinchot as the narrator. Not a book for those who like cozy mysteries but if you like quirkiness with your macabre story lines then this is for you.
When I first began to listen to this book I became bored with the story line in short order. Today I went back to try again. I began listening regularly to audio books in 1993. I cannot recall a better narrator. Bronson Pinchot portrayed many different characters in this story. Each was given a distinct voice and delivery. Not once did I notice a mistake. Five stars to the narrator who made this two star story a real treat to listen to.
An enjoyable whodunit. Narrator Bronson Pinchot does an excellent job voicing a wide range of characters. Highly recommended.
Both the story and the narrator made this an excellent experience.
I loved that the perspective of the story was of a witty, average writer who stumbled along the story as most of us do in our lives, making it more believable and hilarious.
Bronson Pinchot is my favorite narrator and continues to be in this audio book. His accents, voices and story telling are dead on and I know I would not have enjoyed the books he narrated as much as I did if he were not the narrator.
I loved Harry's final interview with Darian Clay at the prison. It sealed the deal.
I'm so glad I purchased this book. It was totally worth it.
This was a reasonably interesting and decent book. I appreciated that the porn and the violence weren't explicit. The author includes some food for thought about writing--especially since the writing i this book is pretty light-weight--sort of makes you think anyone could write, if you know what I mean.
I was very sorry the author decided to keep writing after the story was pretty much over. It got pretty tiresome, and was completely unnecessary. The idea was to have something other than just a simple formula thriller. I think the way to accomplish this is through the quality of the writing, not by messing around with the plot.
I got pretty excited about Pinchot after listening to Cheese Monkeys. He is very versatile but unfortunately he does repeat voices across different books. It's almost like the books are narrated by an ensemble cast who appear together over and over. That's better than a lot of narrators, but Pinchot is so good you expect more from him and can be disappointed by the recurring voices.
If you're looking for a straight-forward serial murder story, this ain't it. The narrator continually chats up the audience with his story-telling problems. Contrary to a previous comment, the story is well-written, funny and smart. Plus, reader is terrific. A Queens New York accent is called for, and he delivers! An editor could have helped, but who has an editor anymore? Even without necessary cutting, especially at the end, it's four stars.
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