TRUE CRIME by Samantha Kolesnik

Suzy and her brother, Lim, live with their abusive mother in a town where the stars don’t shine at night. Once the abuse becomes too much to handle, the two siblings embark on a sordid cross-country murder spree beginning with their mom. As the murder tally rises, Suzy’s mental state spirals into irredeemable madness.

The IndieMuse Review

My copy of True Crime has a blurb by horror mainstay Brian Keene on the cover. He describes the book as “A debut with the power of a nuclear bomb” and one that ranks alongside Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door and J.F. Gonzalez’s Survivor. It is both a bold statement and a potent warning of what to expect in this harrowing debut novel by Samantha Kolesnik.

Suzy, a true crime enthusiast, lives with her older brother Lim and her mother. Suzy and Lim endure physical and emotional abuse at the hands of the family matriarch until they are able to escape, embarking on a murderous journey across the country, bringing them nationwide attention. Will Suzy’s troubled past define her future, or is there hope for redemption?

Unlike Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door, this is a (thankfully) fictional story of a young girl’s descent into madness. A lot like Ketchum’s work (and the aforementioned Survivor), this isn’t the kind of book you enjoy. It’s the kind you endure, and one that will linger in your thoughts for a long time after you’ve put the book down. Although Suzy is the victim of horrific abuse, she is not a sympathetic character. She herself does a number of unforgivable things throughout the book and, as the story is told from her perspective throughout, these actions are presented to the reader in a detached and emotionless way. Suzy doesn’t have the same emotional responses we do, and the violence and the abuse is often presented in a very blunt, matter of fact manner as a result.

The books narrator is perhaps its biggest strength, and what sets it apart from the other works mentioned here. The whole story is from Suzy’s point of view, and the way in which she interacts with people and the world around her, and how she reacts to situations changes significantly as the story progresses. It is a fascinating look into the mind of someone who has experienced terrible things, both as the victim and the perpetrator, and how these things have changed her. She is a challenging protagonist to hang a story on, and it is difficult to relate with her but then, that is the point.

It is an exceptionally well executed book. The insight into the troubled mind of an adolescent feels very genuine, despite the extremes the story takes you to. It is also an unflinching and unforgiving book, one where happy endings and ‘good’ winning the day is not not forthcoming, but would also feel disingenuous and disrespectful to the story being told.

True Crime will not be for everyone. Even the most hardened horror reader will struggle with the themes of child abuse, and the writer does not shy away from the act itself or the toll it takes on the characters. It is a bleak, emotionally challenging story, and an incredible declaration of a debut novel.

RICHARD MARTIN

Richard started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatised himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner, and an inappropriate amount of books.

2 reviews for TRUE CRIME by Samantha Kolesnik

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  1. Ramiro Machin  

    Very much enjoyed it. Great flow and I could not put the book down!

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  2. Darryl Oatis  

    I absolutely loved this book! I’m looking forward to reading more from the author. Highly recommended!

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