Original and compelling story of an unusual serial killer
“Random” is the story of a serial killer like none I’ve read before.
This is not some Hannibal Lecter evil-genius anti-hero, nor the all too common I-like-to-cause-women-pain serial killer, or even the Dexter “dark passenger” kind of killer.
This is a story of a disciplined man, following a plan with minimal emotional involvement. A plan that will get him an outcome that he greatly desires.
At least, that’s how it starts.
Executing the plan costs our killer. It eats away at his humanity. It stresses him to the point where he struggles to keep control and starts to give way to paranoia and anger.
The whole story is told from the killer’s point of view and we get to watch him fall apart.
“Random” delivers many of the things that attract people to serial killer books: tension and suspense, ingeniously managed kills, a strong sense of place, a high level of plausibility and a level of graphic violence that is convincing enough to be disturbing but never crosses the line into voyeuristic murder porn.
Yet the most interesting thing about the book is not who gets killed and how but the why of it all. The motivation behind the plan. The end game that you won’t see coming. This is all brilliantly done through interior dialogue and memories. Memories are important in this novel. Our killer says:
“Memories are like landmines. You never know which one will blow up in your face”.
Our killer is a fully developed character. Someone I could feel pity for. Someone who has lost himself. Someone doing things that he knows are unforgivable but which he makes himself do anyway.
Being inside this man’s head is not a pleasant experience but it’s not a trip to loony town either. It’s unpleasant because any of us might find ourselves where he is.
The plot is clever and the pacing works. It’s an astonishing debut by an author I want more of.
I picked up “Random” as part of my Thirty Firsts 2019 TBR Reading Challenge. The book is marketed as “Narey and Winter #1” so I expected it to be the first in a series of police detective stories, set in Glasgow, about two police detectives.
In reality, I spent all my time in the killer’s head. Narey features throughout the book as a kind of remote threat of justice. Winter didn’t make an appearance. I have no idea where book two will go.
It sounds to me like “Random” was a successful one-off novel that begged for an encore. Craig Roberstons writing is good enough to convince me to give the next book a try and find out where it goes.