Friday, February 6, 2015

Dan Wells's "I Am Not A Serial Killer"...A Book Review

If you don't know about the Wells brothers, Dan and Robison, you should get to know them. They're writers, each having achieved an impressive level of success. I know a lot of brothers try to outdo each other playing one-on-one basketball, or with their grades at school. I don't know a lot of dueling brother authors. Then again, I don't know if they "duel" over their writing. However, the dedication in Dan Wells's I am Not a Serial Killer suggest they do.

Speaking of that book, I finished it this week.

What a great book!

I've known of Dan Wells for years. He's one of the Writing Excuses Podcast members, a podcast I follow. He has written several highly regarded series. I am Not a Serial Killer was his first published work.

The book's protagonist is a teenager who loves everything about serial killers, the same way a die-hard baseball fan loves to collect baseball cards. It's his thing. Even his name, John Wayne Cleaver almost destines him to have a fascination on the subject. And having his mother and aunt own and operate a mortuary where he sometimes get to work also helps.

A book with such a title must include several deaths performed by...well, a serial killer. Because of his natural curiosity and access to information on the deaths, John tracks down the killer, who kills and leaves evidence like no other killer before. Soon a game of cat-and-mouse begins between John and the killer until the inevitable end when hero and demon face each other for their final battle.

If you believe the book to be one of just "blood and guts," it's not. It's more. There's an internal fight inside of John that's intriguing. All of us who've survived our teen years know how difficult it can be. With John, we understand his inner battle because the first-person narration let's us feel it with him. I also liked the level of detail Wells included describing the mortuary and how a body is processed for burial. It reminded me of when my father passed away and the mortuary allowed my siblings and me to tour the embalming facility (with no bodies visible, of course...). I was fortunate enough to speak with Mr. Wells last weekend and I praised him on how well he described the process. He said he's gotten many compliments on that particular part of the book.

The pacing is great. The conflicts feel real and I recommend this book. I remember asking Dan to sign my copy of the book, a book I bought at a yard sale that Dan signed to someone else. You can see not only can Dan write a great horror story, but he's got a great sense of humor as well.

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