When I first looked at this book, I noticed that the back cover included "The Serialist is a love letter to books - from poetry to pornography - and proof that truth really can be stranger than fiction." A love letter to books? Could the book live up to that? Intrigued, I started reading.
The main protagonist is Harry Bloch, a struggling writer who has published serial novels under various pseudonyms and in a variety of genres (vampire lit, urban crime fiction, science fiction, pornography). Harry agrees to ghostwrite the memoir of incarcerated murderer Darian Clay (aka New York's infamous Photo Killer), but it doesn't take long for things to become a dangerous mess.
I realise I'm making the plot sound a bit cliche, but I don't want to say more because I try to tread carefully around spoilers. This book does have cliches in them, but the author has fun with them and so will readers. It lived up to the "love letter to books" claim on the back cover.
It's definitely a crime fiction novel, but with excerpts of Harry's writing, we get glimpses into other genres. The author comes across as knowledgeable about the publishing industry, and has some fun with it, but never gets bogged down in too much seriousness. It's funny. Sometimes laugh out loud funny and sometimes overflowing with dry wit, and always entertaining.
Last sentences of the first (2-page) chapter:
"Still I'm a professional, of sorts, and since this is a Mystery/Suspense (shelve accordingly), I want to open in the classic style, with a hook, a real grabber that holds the reader hostage and won't let go, that will keep your sweaty little fingers feverishly turning the pages all night long. Something like this:It all began the morning when, dressed like my dead mother and accompanied by my fifteen-year-old schoolgirl business partner, I opened the letter from death row and discovered that a serial killer was my biggest fan."
Congrats Harry Bloch...it worked on this reader! This debut novel has a few minor flaws, but the positives more than make up for them. David Gordon has created a great character with a compelling voice, and I hope this is just the beginning of a new series.