Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review: The Cutting Edge

Title: The Cutting Edge
Author: Darcia Helle
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Createspace
Price: $12.50
Pages: 232
ISBN: 978-1453630730
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed By: Cheryl Anne Gardner

Book Description: My name is Skye Summers. I'm a hairstylist and I can't stop fantasizing about killing my clients. Not all of them, of course. I only want to kill the ones who irritate me, which, if I'm being honest, is most of them. My occasional fantasies have turned into chronic daydreams. They're bloody and vivid, like watching a slice-and-dice movie on IMAX. I also want to kill my husband's ex-girlfriend. She's not a client but she tops my list. Eighteen years ago, she gave birth to his daughter and she has tormented him ever since. I should be troubled by this growing desire to use my surgically sharpened shears for more than a haircut. Instead, I wonder how I can get away with it.

Well, it's no wonder Skye wants to kill people. Her name is Skye for one; her parents are hippies; her husband's ex is a monster of a greedy selfish bitch and his daughter has also found fashion in that as well; and all Skye's clients at the hair-salon have rubbed every single nerve in her body raw. If you've ever worked in the service industry, you will be able to relate to Skye's woes, and if you haven't, Skye's darkly humorous way of dealing with the self-absorbed should be taken as lesson learned. Sometimes we forget that the voice across the lunch counter, or the salesman at the shoe store, or the waiter/waitress bringing us our food are actually people with lives and emotions, etc. They are there to do their job, not be subservient to us. That's the first part of the story, the second, the serial killer part, has to do with another sort of person, which we shall call the abusive manipulator. Both stories converge to paint a rather unflattering portrait of the "selfish woman.” Actions speak louder than words, and this story is chock-full of some of the most loathsome people I could ever care not to meet.

However, Skye doesn't have it all bad. Her should-be-a-porn-star husband is a charmer, and her parents are stereotypical peace, love, and understanding, but a day job that drains you and then subsequently fills you up with negative energy can take its toll on even the most make-the-best-of-it people. Skye is no exception. Most of the book is done in a first person, present tense, daily journal styled narrative where Skye complains about her day, worries over her homicidal thoughts, and berates the ignorance and rudeness of her clientele while fantasizing about killing and maiming them in various gruesome ways. This is interwoven with the third person narrative of the serial killer. Some readers will not like the constant head hopping from first to third person narrative styles. It is a bit choppy and disorienting but the author, for effect, might have intended that. Other than that, the book was well proofed. I only found two or three instances of missing words/grammatical issues. The biggest problem with the book was the presentation. The cover image is absolutely striking, but I thought the sideways title in such a plain font with the black bar void under the picture really didn't do justice to the graphic or the story. The other major issues were with the interior formatting, and they are too numerous to mention here. You won't notice these issues as much in eBook format, of course, but I was reviewing from a print copy, so I had to take everything into account.

As for the plotting of the story, it's a quick predictably fun read. Skye's got an uber amount of personality, so if you like sarcastic all up in your face attitude, then you will just love the book because of the connection you'll feel to Skye. The serial killer thriller part is pretty much standard fare: the abused child vicariously seeks revenge against his dead monster of a mother, and eventually he and Skye cross paths using kismet as a plot device. What I really loved was that Skye kept her head about her and didn't become the cliché "damsel in distress turns unto a sobbing begging wet noodle" type of heroine in the end, so the book has a predictable yet strong finish. The last line is a knock out! Readers who are on the sensitive side might have trouble with some of the violence, detailed and implied, so be warned.

Overall, I really just loved Skye, and I loved the story, and those who love sarcastic heroines, pitch-black comedy, and misogynistic serial killer plotlines will too.


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