My Pet Se­rial Killer

Michael J. Sei­dlinger Cines­tate (OC­TO­BER) Soft­cover $16 (468pp) 978-1-946487-02-5

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction - SHANA CREANEY

Claire’s self-im­age un­der­scores the no­tion that any­one could be a vi­o­lent psy­chopath.

My Pet Se­rial Killer, by Michael J. Sei­dlinger, is an un­set­tling and deeply graphic thriller fo­cus­ing on the over­lap be­tween sex and vi­o­lence.

Claire Wilken­son is a foren­sic crim­i­nol­ogy stu­dent with an un­healthy in­ter­est in de­viant be­hav­ior. At the story’s start, Claire is on the prowl to pick up a new “pet”—a se­rial killer that she can own. This search leads Claire down a path of blood­shed and ma­nip­u­la­tion. Claire trains her new­est “pet” by em­bark­ing on a road trip to mur­der her ex-pets.

Claire’s first-per­son nar­ra­tion is bizarrely ren­dered. She loses her­self in mem­ory and fan­tasy, mak­ing it more and more dif­fi­cult to tell what’s hap­pen­ing, es­pe­cially dur­ing chap­ters marked as “op­tional” that un­der­score the con­cept of so­ci­ety’s un­healthy fas­ci­na­tion with mur­der. To not fully in­dulge in these chap­ters seems like a dis­ser­vice to the the­matic mes­sage of the book; they are al­most dizzy­ing in their qual­ity.

Claire does not pro­vide much in­for­ma­tion about her­self, though she pre­sents as self-ag­gran­diz­ing and tem­per­a­men­tal. To most peo­ple, Claire ap­pears as an en­ter­pris­ing and beau­ti­ful young woman who is no dif­fer­ent from any­one else. This is the im­age she pre­pares for the out­side world; it un­der­scores the no­tion that any­one could be a vi­o­lent psy­chopath.

Other char­ac­ters are less di­men­sional. Claire uses two as­sis­tants on her road trip whose per­son­al­i­ties un­dergo rapid change. The pets that she in­tends to re­visit are barely ex­plained. Her cur­rent pet is also pre­sented as a “mys­tery.” These gaps pro­vide ad­di­tional ev­i­dence of Claire’s un­re­lent­ing nar­cis­sism.

My Pet Se­rial Killer is a strange book, dark and sadis­tic, with the per­fect tone for what it de­tails. Sei­dlinger has cho­sen an un­con­ven­tional way to pro­pel his story into some­thing more than what it is. Claire’s spi­ral­ing thoughts, com­bined with the un­com­fort­able op­tional chap­ters, make this book stand out.

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