I try only to review books by self-published authors. However, once in awhile I come across a traditionally published book that sticks with me. This is the case with Normal by Graeme Cameron.
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars and here’s why.
The story is written in first person which gives you a chilling view of how the killer thinks. He begins by telling you all of the things he learned about his latest victim prior to killing her.
“I’d learned some interesting things about Sarah. She was eighteen years old and had finished school back in July with grade-A passes in biology, chemistry, physics and English.
…That morning, Sarah had spent just under half an hour in the bath and just over five minutes cleaning her teeth. She had no fillings or cavities, but the enamel on her upper front teeth was wearing thin from overbrushing. She also applied toothpaste to the index and middle finger of her left hand in a vain attempt at stain removal.”
He ends the summary of this victim with, “Oh, and I knew three more things. I knew that her last hot meal was lasagna, her cause of death was a ruptured aorta and her tongue tasted of sugar and spice.”
How did he learn all of this about the victim? By talking with her, of course. He’s a cold-blooded bastard. No doubt!
The opening made me initially dislike and loathe this man. He was weird, showed no empathy for his victims, and I looked forward to the moment of his capture. As the story progressed, my feeling towards him changed. I had become fond of him. I desperately wanted him to live happily ever after with his newfound true love.
The story continues with the killer loading Sarah’s body parts into his van. He is discovered by Sarah’s best friend, Erica. The matter-of-fact and business-as-usual manner in which he abducts her is almost (but not quite) entertaining. He locks her in the basement in a cage with future plans to kill her, but he doesn’t because she fascinates him.
The author did a wonderful job of fleshing out this character and pulling me into the plot. There are several unexpected plot twists that I found blissfully entertaining, sometimes humorous, and always terrifying. I’m not sure what disturbs me more: the fact that I was entertained or that I liked this weirdly sinister killer.
The first-person narrative may be unsettling for some readers. Sometimes it reads (almost) like stream of consciousness. I loved it as it gave me a view of the killer that may not have been possible otherwise.
Normal is a dark and twisted thriller that perfectly blends humor, fate, and romance into a bizarre but fascinating read. I would have given this story 5 stars, but I am not a fan of its ending which is an abrupt cliff hanger that is concluded in the next book, Dead Girls. Nonetheless, I highly recommend to all fans of serial killer murder mysteries.