"True Crime" Book Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Published by Grindhouse Press
Written by Samantha Kolesnik
2020, 143 pages, Fiction
Released on January 15th, 2020
When friend and fellow reviewer Shane Keene messaged me on Twitter alerting me of the availability of review copies for True Crime, I took notice because when Shane tells me to read something, I do. Every reader I know has ‘that person’ whose recommendations are always rock solid, and Shane is my ‘that person’. If I wasn’t already sold, Brian Keene’s front-cover quote definitely would have sealed the deal:
A debut with the power of a nuclear bomb. Ranks alongside Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door and J.F. Gonzalez’s Survivor.
You know how there’s always a thread or discussion to be found of the book that destroyed you? Well those two books Keene mentioned are always my go-to selections for such a topic. So it’s a bold statement…that lives up to its promise. Damn.
True Crime doesn’t pull any punches. Coming in at just 143 pages, it can’t afford to. From a few pages in, author Samantha Kolesnik lays out the groundwork of exactly what’s in store. Suzy, after suffering lifelong abuse from her mother, finally snaps and makes sure her mother never hurts her or anyone else ever again. Her brother and protector, Lim, sees what Suzy has done, has her collect some things, and the two head off to where the road takes them. Madness, murder, and mayhem are along for the ride.
Since this is a novella, that’s all you really need for a synopsis. Saying anything more would be a disservice to you because this is a journey you need to take on your own. A brutal, painful journey.
Kolesnik is absolutely exceptional in developing a character in Suzy that you are both appalled by and saddened for. She is fury personified, and you can’t rightly blame her considering all that she’s been through. I really wanted to crawl into this book and protect Suzy (even though I’d do a far worse job than her brother, who is more than capable of handling any threat coming her way).
Also in Kolesnik’s bottomless bag of skills is how she writes unflinching violence in such a way that it’s not done for shock value. It doesn’t feel gimmicky. She wastes exactly zero words and drops the amount you need to easily fill in any missing blanks. And we all know if you have any sort of imagination, when left to your own devices it’s going to be far worse than being spoon-fed details. Suzy has been through a lot. You feel her pain, her rage, her distrust, her expectations of the worst to come. You know why she does what she does. Even when she comes into contact with good people, she has zero trust and zero feelings for them. It’s all so very believable; there’s nothing over the top.
And the good people Suzy comes across make everything far more damning. On one hand, you are waiting for the other shoe to drop because Kolesnik successfully makes you as pessimistic as Suzy when it comes to the human race. On the other, when that shoe doesn’t drop, you are left with a feeling of profound sadness because there is opportunity for the girl to get the help and love she desperately needs, but only if she can summon the courage to take it.
Side note that you’re going to hate me (or love me, depends) for: For some reason, I couldn’t help but imagine Wayne and Katy from Letterkenny as Lim and Suzy. I will never watch that show the same way again. Ever.
Brian Keene is spot on with the comparisons to both The Girl Next Door and Survivor. Like those two, True Crime will beat the shit out of you and you’ll be so engrossed in reading it, you won’t feel the full effects of the asskicking you just got until after you finish it. And I suspect I’ll be feeling that hurt for a long while. Just remember to breathe once and a while as you’re lost in this novella. There were a few times I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath. It’s that good.
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