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Getting into The Basement
on November 27, 2011
At a mere 127 pages (in my edition), calling The Basement a novel may be a bit of an overstatement. Personally, I like a little more meat to my books, but if they have to be this lean, at least they should be as good as this Stephen Leather story.
The main character in The Basement is Marvin Waller, a young screenwriter who's never sold a screenplay. He may not even be a good writer, but in his mind, he's an unrecognized genius. Certain that secretaries are standing between him and the studio execs and stars he wants to pitch to, Waller has taken to standing outside of the homes of actors and directors. Waller may be obnoxious, but he's smart and is careful about staying within the law, much to the consternation of a pair of cops who suspect him of being a serial killer.
Alternating with Waller's narration are scenes from the killer's point-of-view. Actually, they're told in the rarely used second-person viewpoint, but it works here. In the killer's basement, a victim is held: a woman who is a secretary and is being subjected to various degradations that are to lead to eventual murder.
Though (as stated before), The Basement is rather short, it is also the right length, a well-paced and suspenseful read. Depending on your purchase price, you may feel that this book is expensive, but if you place more value on the quality of the writing than the number of pages, the cost will be more reasonable.