“His face is misshapen, beaten by bricks. One of his eyes is swollen and closed. He looks like…he looks like me.”
I really couldn’t shut Maria up about this one. The amount of messages I received from her in pure excitement were too many to count! Well, I don’t blame her. A book about a serial killer is definitely right up my street and the way this story is written put some of those bigger, well-established books of the same genre to shame.
My fourth book to review for my book club was Trash by Oliver McKie Brown. Now, despite the misleading title, this book is far from a pile of trash. The story follows a serial killer, The Sycamore Strangler, who is influenced by his traumatic childhood of drugs and a mother who did anything but care for him.
He spends his time murdering teenage girls in an attempt to stop them becoming as vile and dangerous as his own mother was. Will he ever be stopped? Or will his murderous self continue to terrorise for the rest of his days?
The opening chapter was fantastically graphic and immediately set the scene. We don’t know about the MC’s secret until the end of this chapter, but what we do realise straight from the off is that his mother was a bit of a lunatic. Actually, when I say a bit, I mean one hell of a lunatic.
The biggest thing I must mention to start with is Oliver’s language – it really shocked me! Some of it made me screw my face up in disgust, and I remember thinking, “Is this really necessary?” at first, but I soon came to realise that it was needed to set the tone. To make us realise what kind of a person our main character is, and his mother was, in his childhood. If you’re easily offended, maybe this isn’t the book for you, but I found it absolutely vile. (In a good way, I think.)
“Sycamore buds gathered in her hair like a carpet of flowers.”Ahh, a lovely, tame quote.
The more I got into this book, the more it occurred to me how incredibly worrying Oliver’s Google search history would be if it was looked at. I think it’d be very interesting to say the least! There isn’t a chapter goes by without you gaining much more description than you’d bargained for, and, in most instances, this is what makes the story what it is.
As we really get to know our Sycamore Strangler and how he got a name for himself, we come to realise that there is one particular person he’s had his eye on for some time; his Sunshine. I really liked how he named this “victim”. He loves everything about her, yet his main priority is, of course, to make sure she doesn’t end up just like his own disappointment of a mother.
The Sycamore Strangler’s journey to grab his main “prize” was very well constructed. Oliver has written a very intense scene in the middle of the book where our MC conducts a stakeout. Everything about this scene really impressed me; the detail, the suspense, the way each sentence leaves you (quite literally) on the edge of your seat, anxious to know what happens next. It takes a lot for a bunch of words to have that sort of an effect on a person, and Oliver has really pushed the boat out to ensure his readers keep on reading. (Well, just like I did.)
“The final sheet shows nothing except a blank space, with a caption underneath; ‘Death and dismemberment’.”
A favourite creepy moment in the story that still goes around in my head is where The Strangler is looking through a photo album seeing photographs of himself – photographs that he didn’t know were being taken. He goes through life believing that he should be feared, and for our MC, fear is something that he isn’t used to. It sparks a new emotion in him, which causes him to flee.
There is so little dialogue throughout the book, yet Oliver keeps hold of his readers’ attention through incredibly descriptive paragraphs and scenes. This part of the book had me completely involved in what was going on, so much so that it was like watching an awesome film. It flowed so smoothly and every detail you can imagine is described to perfection; how the Strangler injures himself, his thoughts, why he carries out each action and the consequences of each action are captured so well.
To me, the ending of the book seemed a little strange. Maybe this is just compared to the other things I’ve read before, but it was rather disturbing! In a way, I was satisfied with the outcome, but if you’re not prepared for the downright weird, then you’re in for a bit of a shock. (Not necessarily a bad thing, might I add!)
There’s a rather big turn of events at the end of the book, and it was definitely the complete opposite to what I thought would happen. You soon find yourself feeling a lot different towards the main character in such a short space of time. Again, the description in this part of the book is faultless, leaving you with a bucketful of emotions you aren’t sure what to do with!
“The whistling birdsong turns into stony silence as petrified birds scarper into the heady evening sky.”
Ever read the Dexter books? Or watched the series? If you’re a fan, the final chapter will give you a lot of excitement. I absolutely loved it. So mysterious, yet filled with enough answers to give the reader some closure to the book. Oliver has written this particularly well – even though I kind of want the story to carry on, deep down…
Oliver is an incredibly talented author who has really done his research on a lot of topics before beginning his novel. If you’re a writer just starting out, you should read Oliver’s work to see the kind of detail you need to make an impact on your reader. In my opinion, the level of detail in Trash is extraordinary.
The only downside to the novel I found was that I never really felt attached to a character until the very last couple of chapters. Perhaps this was intentional, I’m not entirely sure, but when reading a book usually, you’re rooting for a particular character to do well, or succeed in a certain task. In Trash, everything seems very different.
Saying this, I also feel like this way of writing is refreshing. It’s something incredibly different and dark – a very enjoyable read, especially if you want to read something a little out of your comfort zone.
A big thanks to Oliver for allowing me to read and review this dark and mysterious novel! You can purchase a copy of Trash over on Amazon, available on Kindle or paperback. 📚 Follow Oliver on Twitter to keep up to date!
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