From Publishers Weekly
A seedy freelance writer provides the wry narrative voice for Gordon's winning debut, a darkly humorous thriller. New Yorker Harry Bloch, who once had lofty literary ambitions, has spent the past two decades as a hack, mostly as an advice columnist called the Slut Whisperer for Raunchy
magazine. Bloch also earns cash by doing homework for affluent private school students, a side business managed by a precocious teenage girl who was the first pupil he was paid to tutor. His boring life takes an unexpected turn after he receives a letter from death-row inmate Darian Clay (aka the Photo Killer), who, as a fan of the Slut Whisperer, thinks Bloch is right for the job of assisting him on his memoirs. In exchange for Clay revealing where he concealed the heads of his female victims, Bloch must seek out women who have written to Clay and write stories about their having sex with the serial killer. A number of plausible plot twists help shift the story from farce to whodunit. (Mar.)
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*Starred Review* Harry Bloch is a serialist in spades. He ekes out a living in Queens by writing pseudonymous series novels, all in the pulp style: the Zorg SF series by T. R. L. Pangstrom; the inner-city black Jew detective series by J. Duke Johnson; and the vampire series by Sybilline Lorindo-Gold, Bloch’s mother’s full maiden name. In addition he “tutors” rich high-school kids by writing their term papers. Bloch’s big break comes from a serial killer on death row: 88 days before his execution, Darian Clay offers a chapter of his life story for each piece of pornography Bloch writes based on the torrid letters Clay has received in prison. Bloch’s visits to three letter-writing women have unexpected consequences, raising the possibility of a retrial for Clay; meanwhile, Bloch is suspected of murder and fears for his life. In his debut novel, Gordon sustains the action of an involved plot while sprinkling in chapters from each of Bloch’s three series and his own reflections on reading and writing, with an emphasis on the mystery genre. Seldom has a serial-killer story been as richly textured and laugh-out-loud funny as this one. Sure to be among the most unusual and appealing of this year’s debut thrillers. --Michele Leber