Thursday, October 21, 2010

REVIEW: "The Cutting Edge" by Darcia Helle

"I fantasize about my scissors slipping and slicing into her jugular vein."

Anyone who’s ever been in a job that involved personal service will relate to some of Skye Summers’ thoughts about her hairdressing clients. While annoying clients are in her chair, Skye finds herself fantasizing about killing them in the most grotesque ways. From the teenage boy who wants to use a knife on her to the woman who shows up at the crack of dawn and accuses Skye of being late, she's got quite the rude set of clients and she knows she'd be happier if she could just kill them off, one by one. Skye's obsession with her gruesome killing fantasies grows by the day, until even she is no longer disturbed by them. Meanwhile, there really is a serial killer out there, a control freak on a mission to teach women they really don't hold all the control. As he picks up speed, Skye finds herself alternately fascinated and disgusted by this serial killer, never knowing that their lives are soon to cross and neither will ever be the same again. 
In "The Cutting Edge," Darcia Helle has created some of the most absurd and aggravating hairdressing clients you can imagine. The care she takes with some of the details makes the characters richer and easier to picture, and some of them are laugh-out-loud funny with their ridiculous antics. The author uses the serial killer, "The Mass Avenger," as a live-action backdrop to mirror some of Skye's own thoughts until the time comes for the two stories to meet. It's an intriguing and unique concept, with a neat little twist at the end. 

"The Cutting Edge" is a quick read, and initially had a fun, quirky sense to it. As I read further, however, I began feeling like the story was going nowhere. The descriptions of the characters began feeling more like journal entries, designed to share all the wacky characters the author had created, and less like a vehicle to move the plot along to the climax. I felt like we meandered along for a time in the middle before the story really picked up again at the end. Adding to the journal feel of the book, the story is written in the first person, present tense, with occasional third person interludes from the serial killer's perspective. With the feeling I was reading someone else's journal entries, I found it difficult to fully engage in the story. 
There are a few characters slips in the book; characters being introduced for a second time when really it’s been three times, the wrong character’s name at a pivotal time in the book, and there are some typos in the book. Alone, none of these are truly notable, but there were enough to make me think a bit of editing is in order. 
Although very predictable (it was immediately obvious to me who the killer was, although I think the author attempted to lead us off track by giving us several options), it was definitely a fun read, and an enjoyable way to spend some time. I can see where this book wants to be, and I think a little more finishing will help move this story from a fun, quirky read to a bonafide thriller with a dark, comedic edge. 

3 /5 stars

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