Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Book Review: The Least of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones

The Least of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones

Trade Paperback, 188 pages

Published by Broken River Books

I really enjoyed this short novel. SGJ is a name I have heard through out the years. I met him in passing at conventions and always meant to read his work.

It is hard at this point to write something bold and innovative in the sub-genre of Serial Killer tale. From Robert Bloch’s Psycho to Thomas Harris and his Lector novels this is a subject really well explored in both novels and film. it is hard to picture these days anyone coming up with a truly original take on the serial killer story. That is what the Least of my Scars is.

I didn’t know this before I started reading, going on the strength of the author I went into this book totally cold. Not knowing anything about what it was about. It is a short but powerful business. It took me twenty-seven pages but when I figured what was going on I laughed out loud.

The main Character William Colton Hughes is shut-in hitman/serial killer. His victims come to him, and the killer is not entirely certain why or how they end up at his door. His victims show up, some times they hang, other times they bring food. One of the most fantastic moments of the novel comes when there is a knock at the door. One knock and the person is gone. That doesn’t happen. Then Hughes starts to question. Where is it that I live? Why do these people keep showing up?

Hughes is a killer and clearly mad, he is our only window into this world, and thus SGJ has created a fantastic unreliable narrator.

The concept is weird, and is often the case with bizarro literature you just have to ride with it. It gets weirder as it goes but SGJ pays off the reader quite nicely. His prose here is lean and deliberate, if you pay attention to things like story construction and wordsmithing then you can’t go wrong. It is a well done piece of work on several levels.

This is a fantastic piece of experimental horror. It is a dark bizarro weird crime novel,and would make great combo with Brian Evenson's Last Days. If weird horror and crime appeal to you I advise you not to miss it.

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