Marvin's Reviews > Duncan's Diary: Birth of a Serial Killer

Duncan's Diary by Christopher C. Payne
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Apr 24, 10

bookshelves: first-reads, autographed

I must admit novels about serial killers are not for everyone. My wife for instance is totally repulsed by my love for the suspense/horror sub-genre. It's hard to explain but there's something fascinating about exploring the seedy underbelly of the human psyche.

So I was very happy to win this self-published debut novel by Christopher C. Payne from the Goodreads First-Reads program. Yet, while reading it, I started to wonder if a writer can go over the line. This hasn't been the first time I've wondered this. American Psycho really stretched the boundaries. However the author was clever enough to turn it into a form of social satire questioning modern society's goals and aspirations.

Payne, however goes for the jugular and never lets go. Like Brett Easton Ellis he drops names and movies implying a separation of empathy from reality in novice serial killer Duncan Moron's life. But Duncan doesn't really become very interesting. He's dull as a regular person and and dull and vicious as a serial killer. His misdeeds are narrated with explicit details and emotional detachment. They become incredibly difficult to read at times. His friend and detective Sudhir is just as pathetic being devoid from his feelings and often incompetent. It is difficult to find anyone in this book that one can care about, therefore the suspense becomes horrific yet as detached from the readers as it is from the protagonists. Add a sudden but inconclusive ending (with the possibility of a sequel) and the reader leaves unsatisfied.

Yet Payne's prose does tend to pull you into the story. He is excellent with descriptions and knows how to keep you turning the page. His self-published book could use a good editor and I suspect that would have fixed many of my reservations. Fans of serial killer novels will appreciate this book for what it is, an attempt to explain the unexplainable. Therefore the three stars.

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