It’s well known that I’m not much of a fan of serial killer fiction. Everyone’s trying (and failing) to ripoff Hannibal Lecter, making their killers even more diabolical than their fictional predecessors.
Serial killers are boring. I’m more interested in the “why” of people killing. What makes a human being take another human being’s life?
Sascha Rothschild’s confidently written debut work attempts to answer that question through the eyes of a serial killer who swears she isn’t one.
It’s difficult to create a legit complex main character in an age where folks attach character traits to their MCs like they’re playing pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. In other words, they give their character so many “complexities” that they barely seem human. But Rothchild’s Ruby feels like a fully realized person. Her context feels real, her rationales for murdering feel true to her experience, the blending of murderous behavior and psychology is done well without being on-the-nose. She is legit complex. By definition of the term “serial killer,” she is one. And yet, is she a bad person? The reader is dared to judge.
The overarching case of whether or not she killed her husband works okay as a plot device. I would’ve preferred a straight linear narrative. I didn’t much care for its resolution either, though it took an interesting twist. Nevertheless, I loved how Sascha Rothchild wrote this specific story with this specific character. It’s a legitimate fresh take on a very tired genre and leaves the reader with some food for thought.