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Totally Killer: A Novel Paperback – September 29, 2009
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“… this wacky tale of capitalist aspirations run way beyond amok…[is] a dark, hilarious, and original fable, well worth reading.” (Chronogram (Hudson Valley))
“Greg Olear stands out as one of the few ‘New Voices’ in contemporary fiction whose writing actually deserves the moniker. The title doesn’t lie—Totally Killer truly is.” (Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight)
“Lock Ted Bundy, Franz Kafka, and Terry Southern in a room with a typewriter and they might produce something like Totally Killer...This darkly comic, beautifully written tale of conspiracy, sex and obsession in 1990s New York City deserves a wide audience.” (Bruce DeSilva, Edgar-nominated author of Rogue Island)
“Olear has created a veritable almanac of the 90s. Totally Killer is, well, totally killer. You’ll laugh. You’ll cringe. You’ll weep. You may even find yourself humming Whitney Houston.” (Jonathan Evison, author of All About Lulu)
“Smart, unexpected, and wonderfully savage in its humor. Totally Killer nails, without mercy, the mood and minutiae of a weary America at the end of the 20th century. Olear’s characters are perfectly emblematic of their times.” (Brad Listi, author of Attention. Deficit. Disorder.)
“I totally loved Totally Killer. It’s American Psycho meets I Love the ’90s. It’s The Firm with an ironic, sexy twist. Flawless writing, funny, sweet, and thrilling, Totally Killer is a fast moving page-turner that had me hooked from the first page.” (Colleen Curran, author of Whores on the Hill)
From the Back Cover
Conspiracy and pop culture collide in 1991 New York in this dark debut from Greg Olear.
Taylor Schmidt—twenty-three, single, and jobless—arrives in the Big Apple desperate for work and hungry for love. Through the Quid Pro Quo Employment Agency she finds the perfect job and the perfect boyfriend . . . but perfection has its price.
Part thriller, part satire, part period piece, Totally Killer is a total page-turner.
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Olear's comedic sense ranges widely too - true, there's all sorts of sexual and physical and psychological mayhem in the novel - but it's also very funny.
Olear is exceptionally good at mixing gritty young-person-out-of-work realism with an unrealistic (but captivating) world of money, power, evil, and, of course, sex. Lots of sex, well-done and presented with good humor - and sometimes sadness.
Done poorly, this mixture of realism and unrealism would be choppy, wrenching, impossible to read and enjoy. Done well, as Olear has, it's a great pleasure. Totally Killer is not seamless -- by intent, I'm sure. Olear wants us to see the seams, and he uses them to great advantage.
A friend recommended this book to me, so I gave it a whirl on a trip recently. The story kicks in from page one and doesn't let up. A mystery is introduced in the first few pages, which I enjoy- it engaged me to pay close attention to the details that followed, wondering what details were clues, red herrings, and which ones were just plain fun.
I did not anticipate that this book would capture the early '90s as well as it did. In fact, while the cover of the book should have tipped me off, I didn't realize it was set in 1991 until I dug in. The pop culture references from that era left me smiling many, many times. Olear clearly is a music fan, and references some great artists from that era. In one of my favorite parts of the book, a deliciously amoral character rips apart the legacy of The Beatles, much in the way that the protagonist in "American Psycho" embraced Huey Lewis.
The characters are engaging, even if they're not entirely likable. It was reminiscent of Douglas Coupland's characters in "Microserfs," where the characters are so focused on themselves, that they tend to view their situations with blinders. This allows Olear to lead them into bad decision after bad decision, without the reader wondering how they let certain events transpire.
I blew through this book in about four days, and was disappointed it was over. I have to say, once the main plot was revealed, I was sure I could predict the ending with some certainty, but the final chapter was a curve ball- an enjoyable one, at that.
If you're looking for some fun fiction, this is money well spent.
Also I was particularly taken with the character of Taylor Schmidt, a clever, unexpected spin on the classic femme fatale. When they start casting for the Totally Killer movie, hot young actresses will be lining up around the block to play this role.
Highly recommended if you like your thrillers smart, edgy and funny as heck.
I'm a fairly jaded reader of novels and I rarely come across something that surprises me. TOTALLY KILLER totally did. The protagonist told the story the only way he could, and I fell in love (or lust) with the object of his affection, Taylor. I couldn't stop reading this book. That's the biggest compliment I can pay it. You won't want to put it down.
No point in rehashing the plot when you can read it in other reviews. Just get the book and read it. If you like intelligent suspense, a fast-paced story off the beaten path, you won't be disappointed with TOTALLY KILLER.