Cannonball Read Bingo: Scandal
In one word: Evocative
This book came by recommendation of a like-minded reading pal who threw the phrase “best book I read all year” out, so I decided that reading it was a no-brainer, especially as I was looking for something dark and spooky. It doesn’t get much darker than a male serial killer of women, especially as true crime is having such a surge in popularity in recent years. Plus, I needed something for my Cannonball Read bingo “scandal” card and per Webster’s a scandal is an “action or event regarded as morally or legally wrong and causing general public outrage.” In our patriarchal culture, senselessly murdering women is the apex of the definition of this word, so I was pleased to kill (heh wordplay) two objectives with one book.
This story is told both from the perspective of the killer and three of the women that play roles in his life. It is a real examination of the nature of evil as we follow the evolution of a troubled and abandoned boy to that of a troubled and murderous man. The story and the narration both have fascinating twists and turns, most of which I did not see coming.
I knew the subject matter was going to make this a tough read, but I didn’t anticipate that the hardest parts would be not the descriptions of the violence toward women. Instead, it was a very rough go for me during the chapters about his childhood. I literally would read two pages at a time, put it down for a break, and come back later. Bone-chilling doesn’t begin to describe the tension that she built in that part of the story, as we see him languish in squalor and abandonment. What’s remarkable is that despite the horrors of his youth, it isn’t written so that we experience sympathy for him, but rather Kukafka is detailing history for context to give a possible explanation for what later transpires, but not excuses or validation of his choices. No matter what happened to him, he had choices to make along the way and is responsible for the outcome of his choices.
If you’re a true crime aficionado, you’re going to gobble this fiction right up, and if you’re not, it’s good enough to be the one suspenseful murdery book you read this year.