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Wanda's Book Reviews

I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles.  (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).

Currently reading

The Death of Chaos (saga of recluce Book 5)
L.E. Modesitt Jr.
The Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues
Harry Harrison

Normal / Graeme Cameron

Normal - Graeme Cameron

He lives in your community, in a nice house with a well-tended garden. He shops in your grocery store, bumping shoulders with you and apologizing with a smile. He drives beside you on the highway, politely waving you into the lane ahead of him.

What you don't know is that he has an elaborate cage built into a secret basement under his garage. And the food that he's carefully shopping for is to feed a young woman he's holding there against her will—one in a string of many, unaware of the fate that awaits her.

This is how it's been for a long time. It's normal... and it works. Perfectly.

Then he meets the checkout girl from the 24-hour grocery. And now the plan, the hunts, the room... the others. He doesn't need any of them anymore. He needs only her. But just as he decides to go straight, the police start to close in. He might be able to cover his tracks, except for one small problem—he still has someone trapped in his garage.

Discovering his humanity couldn't have come at a worse time.


The success of the Dexter novels and TV show has obviously started a bit of a trend. I’m thinking of Dan Wells’ novel I Am Not a Serial Killer, a story of a young man struggling with his urges, and now Normal, which features a killer as the main character, with limited success at making him a sympathetic character.

If you are squeamish, stay far away from this novel. Its first pages include a dismemberment and the whole thing includes multiple murders. The twist is that our main character (who never is given a name that I can recall) finally discovers a woman who makes him wish he was normal. Fortunately or unfortunately, the police are closing in and he still has a “guest” in his underground bunker. The tension of the book derives from his juggling of various half-finished crimes, police investigations, and a couple of new “relationships.”

It is an entertaining, quick read if you don’t take it too seriously. In my opinion, women (even those who have been severely abused) simply would not act that way that Erica does and that Rachel (the potential love interest) would never be as unaware and half-accepting as she is portrayed (the vast majority of women aren’t so desperate for a relationship that they are willing to overlook a habit of kidnapping & murder in their potential partners). Nor would a predator of the main character’s caliber be as easily manipulated by one of his prisoners.

If you are willing to overlook these deviations from true human behaviour and you have a strong stomach, you may find this novel worthy of a few hours of your time.