Growing up, I was weird. Fat, acne, braces, glasses and ill-fitting clothes with a haircut my mom gave me. Definitely not the “cute” weird. I didn’t have a lot of friends, and the ones that I did, well, let’s just say I didn’t remain in contact with most of them post-graduation. I was constantly made fun of for some reason or another and desperately wanted to fit it. When that didn’t happen, I found solace in books. When I was reading, I could be anyone, anywhere, and they became my safe space. I devoured them like I devoured the pizza that came with the Book It program. I longed to be a member of the Baby-sitters Club. I wanted to live on Fear Street. I wished to be as sophisticated as the teenagers in the Christopher Pike books. Somewhere around the sixth grade, I graduated to Stephen King and Dean Koontz, and I discovered VC Andrews. I always had a book in hand and carried one wherever I went. I never, in a million years, thought that I would grow up to have friends that wrote books, or that I would be asked to review one. I thank Samantha Kolesnik for this privilege. Her debut novel, True Crime, has blown me away. It’s exactly what I loved growing up. It’s so gritty and raw, visceral and vulnerable. Can a book be vulnerable? Nevertheless, I could not put it down. I read it when I should have been doing other things. I was captivated.
True Crime tells the story of siblings Suzy, a bright but troubled girl who longs for another life, and Lim, a soft-spoken giant that tries to be his sister’s savior. Suzy loves true crime stories. She can’t get enough of the articles in the magazines she has to hide from her abusive mother. One day, having enough of feeling ashamed, violated and in fear of losing herself, Suzy snaps, and the life she and Lim have know is flipped inside out. Suddenly on the run with nowhere to go and barely any money, the siblings murder their way across the country. Just when you think that maybe they’ll turn their lives around and be good people, they do something to remind you that they’re not good people. And while I knew from early on in this story that they were actually awful, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Suzy. Mostly for the horrendous abuse suffered at the hands of her mother, but also for the obscene choices she would make. Even after Lim is arrested and thrown in prison, and the girl is given a real chance at having a normal life, she just does not take the opportunity.
I cannot believe that this is Sam’s first book. True Crime is disturbing. It goes places that made me scream while reading, “Holy shit! She actually went there.” But I love that! I think that’s so good. Yes, Sam. Please go there. That’s what I want to read. It’s no secret that I like things that are dark, and squishy, gross, slimy and what would make a lot of people uncomfortable. And it’s always soothing when I discover something that fits all of those things. When I was talking to Sam about how much I loved her book, she told me she was afraid that some people would be put off by some of the themes and the fact that she did “go there.” Well, yeah, you’re going to have those that just can’t stomach it. But that’s okay. There will always be people like me hungry for more gore, brutality and things that make us look over our shoulder a few extra times.
Thank you, Sam, for writing such a violent love letter to us weirdos that crave the disturbed outcasts. I, for one, cannot wait for what you have in store for us. You have a life-long fan in me, and I am eagerly awaiting what comes next. You are a true woman in horror. True Crime will be released by Grindhouse Press on January 15, 2020 and the Kindle edition can be pre-ordered HERE.