People who claim to enjoy reading often use phrases like “I’m a voracious reader!” or “I devoured that novel!” in a way to imply some kind of animalistic tendency to savagely tear through and digest a novel’s contents at great speed. While I can appreciate the metaphor, one would need a very different approach the first time they splay open the pages of Sam Kolesnik’s True Crime. This is altogether a different kind of beast; a novel that may indeed start to eat away at you rather than you it.
“Like all good monsters, I came not by force, but by invitation.”
Kolesnik has a strange gift; a looking glass into the darker half of the human psyche. The characters that she has conjured for true crime are somewhat reminiscent of those from her short film, Mama’s Boy. While one could definitely draw a few parallels, True Crime takes things to even darker, deadlier corners of her imagination—a pretty twisted, tainted, and terrifying imagination at that.
“Nobody kept their hands off a woman because a women didn’t want it…there was always some man who loomed in the distance threatening something worse.”
The novel follows the misadventures of Suzy, a very young and very broken girl that has a morbid fascination with death. Suzy is the result of her circumstances; a family of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse to the nth degree. Events are set into motion and Suzy—along with her protective brother, Lim—deal with them in the only real way the pair know how. I know I’m being incredibly vague, but I’m trying very hard so as not to spoil anything. The story is just one mindfuck after the next and talking about the plot might just give too much away.
“I was the black sheep, the sheep with teeth, the sheep even the wolf wouldn’t eat.”
Kolesnik writes with a style that is easy to digest while the content is, at times, hard to swallow. There are many parts that shine a light on the bestial and boorish nature of men, whether you think yourself decent or know that you aren’t. The novel is rather short—circa 150 pages—but is definitely one of those books that you (as the cliché goes) “can’t put down.” I myself finished it in two sittings simply out of the desire to know how it all ended for our demented darling of death.
‘Maybe when God created me, he disliked his creation and turned off the part connecting me to him, like an artist who didn’t want to sign a bad painting.”
Definitely not for the more conservative reader, True Crime is a stygian tale with two standout features: It has a slew of masterful, colourful characters that seem to have crawled out of the darkest extremities Kolesnik’s mind (at least I hope so), and it has some of the most sobering, eye-opening statements and remarks I’ve read in decades. I loved every page. True Crime is more than an impressive debut novel, it is a prodigious explosion into serial killer fiction that makes Kolesnik one to watch.
“My flesh was a monument to bad things I wish I could forget.”
I’m excited right now, not for me, but for you. It’s like that feeling when you find out a good friend has never watched Alien or The Thing and you realize that you can selfishly experience the film vicariously through them again! I’m doing you a favour by adding this preorder link. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. True Crime will be available in both paperback and Kindle on January 15th, 2020.
Samantha Kolesnik is an award-winning writer and film director living in central Pennsylvania. Her screenplays and short films have been recognized at top genre film festivals and her fiction has appeared in notable literary magazines including The Bitter Oleander, The William and Mary Review, and Barnstorm. She is one of the co-founders of the Women in Horror Film Festival. True Crime is her first novel.
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