“SERIAL” (E-Book Review)Book and Comic Reviews,Books/Art/Culture,News Berlyn Reisenauer
Serial killers may be the scariest monsters out there—nothing is more realistically terrifying than a fellow human being who is not only capable of but willing to murder others. Tim Marquitz, who usually writes fantasy (like the DEMON SQUAD series), deviates from his norm to step into this reality with his e-novella SERIAL.
The plot of the novella (available from Samhain Publishing), focusing on a detective seeking such a murderer, is far from unique. Multiple slayings plague the small city of El Paso, adding to its already long streak of unsolved crimes. Detective Isaac Grant, who has been on the case for years, is forced to take a fresh perspective as a new villain surfaces, and the killers begin a fierce battle to dominate the city through fear, each showing off their brutal skills.
It’s a quick and easy read, and Marquitz does a strong job with detail. One of the fiends is handy with a toothpick or two, leaving a grisly trademark: “One of the man’s eyes—the left—had been pierced by toothpicks, so numerous as to obscure the color under them. Only the light brown of the wood stood out, a porcupine of torturous proportion.” This is the type of wording to make you squirm and touch your own eyes to be sure they’re undamaged. Juicy, vivid bits like this are what gives murder mysteries their charm, and Marquitz takes full advantage of the opportunities.
While these moments sustain a large portion of the novella, the killing scenes are literally lacking; there is only one time Marquitz writes out a murder, and that victim is quickly choked. Another disappointing aspect is that SERIAL is a bit misogynistic. It’s common for such miscreants to focus on females, but Marquitz completely excludes living ladies from his story; the only women are the dead victims. Not a huge deal for such a short work with few characters, but it’s definitely a weakness, and limits the audience.
After the story winds through multiple twists, it comes to a respectable final reveal, and Marquitz makes a commendable effort to keep the reader in the dark, yet constantly surprised. That plotline may be a common one, but SERIAL stands out courtesy of Marquitz’s knack for grotesque imagery.