Written in the poorest possible taste Normal follows the life of an unnamed serial killer as he hunts and brings down his prey. Don’t read this book unless you have a black sense of humour, which I fully admit to possessing but even despite this there were parts of this book that had me wincing.
I must confess I’ve read lots of books about serial killers, watched the entire eight seasons of Dexter so consider myself saturated in the horror and in some ways this book read like a pastiche of all these elements. Enter the super-intelligent, forensically aware killer outwitting the local police with his finely honed skills. We are given the barest whiff of an unhappy childhood that has accentuated his lack of compassion for his fellow human-beings although this reader suspects the seeds were already sown and then the killer finds someone who makes him feel things he has never felt before.
The enjoyment of this book is down to the humour which when directed towards the less-gruesome parts of the plot had me chuckling out loud:
It was with trepidation, then, that after a long afternoon on the road I found myself in something called “New Look”, uncomfortably unsure of what I was looking for and, indeed, at…
…The Staff was no help – two girls of around school-leaving age, preoccupied with inspecting their nails. They were big on teamwork where the customers were concerned; it took one of them to ring up each sale, and the other to fold and bag the merchandise. A single trained chimpanzee would perhaps have been more cost-effective. Needless to say, neither saw fit to offer me assistance, and I was left alone in my bewilderment.
“Like I said,” somewhat less convincingly,” I’m not going to do anything you wouldn’t approve of.” It was probably a lie, but on the other hand, I knew Annie only marginally better than she knew me, so there was always a chance that she was perfectly open-minded. One can always hope.
However I was far more disconcerted by the humour that appeared when our narrator was stalking women or deciding what to do about his latest catch, for me it felt like a step (or two) too far. To be fair there isn’t too much gruesome violence although this is far from a tame book, the author’s intention appears to be to push the reader far outside their comfort zone whilst simultaneously providing entertainment, for me this worked for the most part but did leave me feeling a little uncomfortable. To keep the story moving the author allows us to see our killer at his most vulnerable as he starts to develop feelings for a woman, this in turn causes him to see the futility of his lifestyle and he, almost, wants to change but will life conspire against him?
With an open-ended finale I wonder whether this may spawn a sequel which to be honest I will just have to read or perhaps it will be made into a TV drama?
I’d like to say a big thank the publishers Mira who sent me a copy of this unique book for review purposes. Having finished this book I find that Graeme Cameron’s sense of humour extends to his amazon profile which states that he has never worked as a police detective, ER doctor, crime reporter or forensic anthropologist, so now you know!