Just a bit of “Down and Out” buzz today regarding a recently published book: R.M. Kinder’s An Absolute Gentleman (Counterpoint, 2007). This novel was published at the beginning of October, but being super-eager to review anything sent my way, I received a copy of it from the Rocky Mountain News books editor in early September. What this meant was that I read the book as I’ve been living alone in the woods, or squatting in an airplane hangar (across from the county jail), or sleeping in the abandoned homes of my far-flung friends. None of this would normally pose a problem—except that the book is about a serial killer. Every little shudder of the rafters or rustling of the leaves had my heart rate spiking higher than its post-morning-espresso average.
Kinder’s An Absolute Gentleman is the first book I’ve read since Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment that really gets at what goes on inside of a killer’s head. In the case of Kinder’s book, the murderer is a seemingly nice-guy college writing instructor named Arthur Blume. He reads loads of Faulkner. He’s classy and calm. He commits a murder every now and then. Kinder chooses to have Blume narrate the story of his own undoing, and this perspective is what makes the book work. Instead of simply following the path of an already riveting story, readers get a glimpse into the mind of a complex character in a way that an outside perspective would simply not allow. Kinder’s real-life romance with a serial killer no doubt adds to her experience with this subject matter—and it shows up artfully in her book. Kinder’s ex-husband, ironically a homicide detective, identified her lover from one of those TV shows and was the arresting officer. Seriously. Creepy, man. Way creepier than reading this book alone in the woods.
You’d like this book:
If you liked Crime and Punishment. If you have a sick fascination with serial killings. If you frequently watch those unsolved-mystery-type TV shows. If you want to dive into the depths of a complex mind. Or if you just want a good, thrilling read to prepare yourself for the upcoming Halloween holiday.