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Monday, June 16, 2008

Death Masks gets thumbs up from Pretty Scary

Review by Heidi Martinuzzi. Originally posted at:

Death Masks
Written by Kimberly Richards
2008, Eternal Press

As part of a book tour we’re participating in this month, we’re reviewing popular horror author Kim Richard’s newest horror/thriller novel Death Mask, released by Eternal Press.

Someone is killing hot young boys in the local Metro Tonton Park (and it’s not me!). Bill, an unsatisfied computer tec h with a lame job and lame co-workers has one amazing girlfriend in Dixie. Dixie is not only hot, but she’s a salsa dancer who works out and even has hobbies, like pottery. When Bill witnesses one of the local murders in the park, he suddenly becomes a suspect as well. Bill has to balance dealing with his own investigation of the murders with the police (who aren’t much help) and with Dixie’s depressive disorder which has mysteriously come on again after being dormant. It’s not an easy time for Bill. Or Dixie.

We also get the killer’s perspective in neat little segments so we can get another point of view on everything that’s going ion. It fills in some pieces, especially about the murders, and honestly does nothing to reveal the identity of the killer. Of course, the killer is… Dah DUHN! It’s a secret. It’s a twist, so I can’t reveal it. Death Mask follows a traditional thriller storyline complete with the very-necessary twist to accompany the clearing of the name of the protagonist. What would a mystery thriller be without a twist?

Dixie is a very complex character with deep emotional issues that prevent her from overcoming her awkward depression. Bill’s sense of inadequacy keep him from getting farther along at work or making the most out of his life with Dixie. It’s a case of everyday problems getting in the way of people’s lives. Bill himself is completely unprepared to deal with a seemingly dangerously intelligent killer who uses some kind of drug to kill their victims and leaves their bodies in the park to be found by police. Bill embarks on a near-obsessive path of researching serial-killers, the victims, and the drug itself to a point that makes him a prime suspect in the eyes of the police. It also doesn’t do anything to improve his situation with Dixie, who grows worse by the day. Little things that used to cheer her up no longer move her. She has become increasingly irritable and unpredictable emotionally.

What’s also fascinating is that the people who do keep disappearing seem somehow related to Bill’s life. Like the punk kid who threatens him in line at the fast food restaurant who later ends up face-down in the mud in the park, or the mysteriously missing Denny from Bill’s work, who was a liar and an inconsistent friend. No wonder the police suspect Bill… but can he prove that he’s not the killer before someone he loves – someone like Dixie – ends up dead?

Richard’s work is classy and traditional, and lovers of thrillers will enjoy and appreciate the traditional flow of her story in Death Mask. Importantly, the imagery of the Death mask itself is used repeatedly in a very simple yet artistic way throughout the novel; Dixie herself sculpts them in her pottery workshop, and they appear again in an art gallery showing. The Death Mask, an image cast of a person’s face (often after death) and used in burial or for a family’s memory of that person, is a grim and macabre idea that works perfectly for a theme as dastardly as gruesome murders in a park.

And yes you have your standard amounts of mental breakdown, dementia, and murder mystery blood, so the depraved aspects of your soul will find themselves entertained.

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