Elijah Parker likes confrontation. In every social interaction, he likes to provoke discomfort with all around him. Sometimes he uses direct and impolite speech, other times he displays actions that imply physical harm. Sometimes he satisfies his need to cause pain by killing. In The Faceless by Kimberly A. Bettes and Grant Westerbrook, there is a lot of killing. Elijah is not well.
Carrie Rose has hit it big on the internet with a cooking show accompanied by a blog. Comments have been overwhelmingly positive; she even received an offer from a TV network. There has been one negative follower, a troll, who has been consistent with negative comments that have become increasingly rude and vulgar. The last few comments have even promised her an early and soon-to-occur death. This negative commenter raises old memories of a traumatic event that occurred when Carrie was six years old. Carrie lives in constant fear which might mean Carrie is not well.
Jeff is Carrie’s loving boyfriend. They frequently tell each other that they love each other. Carrie has told Jeff about her childhood trauma and about the troubling internet troll. Jeff seems to want to help. He helps her get past nightmares caused by her past and the current threat. Jeff does act a bit withdrawn and weird at times. He acts violently when it comes to his aversion to having his picture taken. Something is not clear. Jeff may not be well.
Alan Grayson and Kurt Bannon are detectives. They were partners working cases in the field until “The Camper” serial murder case occupied Alan’s mind so much he had to be placed on light desk duty while going through therapy and rehabilitation. The Camper murders had stopped for a while but had recently picked up at an ever-increasing rate. Kurt seems to be the first “normal character we meet. Alan is not well.
That is all as far as characters in this novel. Any other named characters are not important as they meet their deaths in horribly gruesome, graphic, and torturous ways. I believe this novel belongs to a genre “extreme horror.” For those who may have read novels by Matt Shaw, I found this novel more extreme and gruesome. I feel this novel should come with a warning about graphic descriptions of human dismemberment.
There are 47 chapter and two epilogues in this work. Seven chapters and one epilog are devoted to police efforts to identify and find the Camper serial killer. All other chapters are either about someone or some group getting murdered by graphically described physical torture which includes creative sexual torture. Psychological torture is nuanced. There is nothing nuanced in this novel. Everything is direct in-your-face murders. The murders are interrupted by interludes of a serial killer reflecting on his favorite kills from the past. At each kill, a number is written on the victim’s forehead. Since the number is over forty and growing, fans of gore have much on which to feast.
This is not a character-driven novel. Most have a background too strange for a general reader to relate to. Even Carrie Rose is two dimensional; she worries about her stalker in the present and dwells on her childhood trauma from the past. That’s it unless you are a fan of cooking shows but that element is not developed.
So, we have a plot-driven novel. As a former cop and a military veteran, I have seen my share (who measures that?) of gore and the results of violence. I have studied (professionally) the treatment of POWs. The seemingly endless graphic violence of this novel put me off. This book reads like an instruction manual for torturers.
The writing is good by many standards. If you are a fan of extreme horror, this is for you. But I will not be meeting you around the water cooler to talk about your favorite reading material.
Giving this an Amazon star rating is difficult for me. I chose to give it a 3 because the writing is good but it does not mean I like the book; I just think it is technically good.
So, why did I read it? This was an author request. (Be careful of what you ask for).