Killer’s Diary by Brian Pinkerton

Killer’s Diary by Brian Pinkerton
Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Horror, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (243 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Daisy

The more she reads, the less she wants to know.

A murderer is stalking the Windy City, carving out the eyes of his victims as grisly souvenirs. When shy Ellen Gordon finds a diary left behind in a coffee shop, she can’t keep from reading it. And when she meets the author in person, he’s just as charming as his writing. Only when she reads further does she find clues to the identity of Chicago’s terrifying serial killer. Could it be the author, himself? Ellen will have to uncover the truth about her new boyfriend quickly if she doesn’t want to become the killer’s next victim.

Killer’s Diary does not just focus on serial killers but the reasons behind murder, the underbelly of society and the dark philosophy underneath abusive childhoods. There is a question of morality to be answered: is ‘God or the devil’ behind murder? Of course, there is a mysterious killer and the usual ‘is-it-isn’t-it’ murder plot, too.

The novel is well paced, following Ellen’s new relationship and her quick reading of the diary, but speeds up as events occur closer together.
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Pinkerton has a great control of language and apt use of metaphor, in particular a brilliant philosophical passage where the human body is described as a ‘sponge’ which can only take so much bad before it squeezes itself out to become clean, sullying others in the process. This reflects the structure of the novel and its conclusion, providing a motive for murder which is understandable to us all.

This is not a novel where there is a villain and an angel. This is a novel where ‘bad’ is made by bad and the reader must form their own conclusions as to whether evil is born or made and whether these individuals can be blamed for their actions, or not.

The mind of a killer is delved into in great detail and shown through blunt statements as well as subtle sentence structure. For example, page eight contains thirteen sentences beginning with ‘He’ within a passage voiced by a killer. This does provide the intended manic list of things, symbolic of a confused mind. However, it is also one of the only places in the novel I feel Pinkerton overdid his art. Five or six repetitions would have the intended effect but thirteen is too repetitive.

The only other slip from near perfect prose is a slight tendency towards melodrama; a character defies realism by stating ‘let me hear your death scream’. Despite being creepy, this comment has the tone of a cartoon or movie as opposed to something written in a killer’s personal diary; it jolts. However, this statement could have been planned to feel false in order to implant doubt and continue the is-it-isn’t-it story line.

Perhaps to off-set the deeply engrained, dark tone and subject matter of the novel, murder and morals is not the only insight into human behaviour. Alongside this underbelly of humanity there is hope, a possible relationship and a reconstruction of life after its abusive beginning. Pinkerton’s novel is a skilled investigation into the two strands bad childhoods can take: irreversible psychological damage, leading to physical harm, or a long reconstruction which can result in a positive direction. It is a carefully structured capsule of the human need to inflict pain or to heal and, just like human nature, the novel surprises.

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