Customer Reviews: The Basement
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VINE VOICEon November 27, 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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.
22 comments| 35 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon November 4, 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
When I read the opening sentences of THE BASEMENT, I thought I was going to love it: "New York always brings out the serial killer in me. It's a great city to kill in. The best." Instead, I was pretty much revolted by it. It's told in two voices, the first-person voice of a social misfit suspected of being the serial killer (which he may be) and the second-person voice that puts the reader in the role of the serial killer (which may be the misfit).

The writing is fine, the plot has potential, but the execution is distasteful. While I can imagine this book being described as "An Intimate Look into the Mind of a Serial Killer," the fact is that it is a romanticized look into the mind of a serial killer, yet it's also remote. The reader doesn't get to know much about the characters except that one or two are especially twisted. The abducted and tortured victim is two-dimensional, having no life in the reader's mind unless she is being written about. The misfit is a wannabe screenwriter who finds himself clever, particularly when he's sassing the cops--he's just obnoxious. The author's research is inadequate, for example his characters seem to be Americans, yet they all use British colloquialisms, and he describes New York as having 15 million people living within its borders, when the population is closer to 8.2 million.

Casting the reader as the serial killer is an interesting, promising choice, but reading that you are performing certain tortures or killing and dismembering people (and getting turned on about it) doesn't really appeal to those who abhor the actions of serial killers. Yes, an intimate look into their minds might be interesting, but having a serial killer's mind transplanted into one's own brain is not especially appealing.
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on November 8, 2010
This is an engaging and fast-paced thriller for fans of novels like Silence of the Lambs. There are passages depicting sadism and explicit sexuality, so fair warning to the squeamish. It will make you uneasy. I could not give it five stars as I thought it was a little short and the characterizations a bit sketched in. Overall, however, it was a good read and well worth the price.

Rodd Reduxxx, author of Mort and The Oldest Living Vampire Tells All
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on December 15, 2011
The premise of this book sounded interesting. I really thought I would like it. It didn't live up to its billing and it was not an enjoyable book.
Characters: two dimensional at best, and no dimensional, usually.
Plot: what plot? Story was told in two different voices. Mr. Waller the twenty-three year old "genius" who was an unpublished/nonproduced screen play writer. Who also, just happened to be a perfect match for a serial killer. Dialog was stilted. Didn't sound American. In fact, I thought the main character was going to be a newly arrived in this country immigrant from England (based on dialog and I guess sentence structure.) I was wrong. He was supposedly the orphaned child of a successful, oscar-winning producer and director and a mother who made him watch her commit suicide.

The two detectives in this novella (it wasn't a full book in my opinion) made me think of card-board cut-outs. No depth, no fully fleshed characters.

Through out the booklet Mr. Waller is describing the books/screenplays he is going to write, if he can figure out a successful ending. The sad part is, Mr. Leathers obviously couldn't figure out an ending to this story, therefore he just stopped. Came up to the climax of the book and quit. Where's the rest of the book?

Do I wish I had my money and time I spent on this book back. You bet. It was both a waste of time AND money. Wish it were possible to give it a negative star rating. I will not be purchasing nor reading any more of this authors work.
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on March 17, 2011
'The Basement' intrigued from the very start - so much so I read it in one day. Well written, as you would expect from a bestselling author of this calibre, the sequence of events holds the reader's attention from start to finish.
I certainly did not see the twist at the end coming.
I felt the balance was just right for a novella as the story doesn't have the abruptness of a short story but at around 40,000 words was long enough for the characters to gain sufficient depth without the complexities of a detailed novel.
Over the years I have read and thoroughly enjoyed many books written by Stephen Leather, especially the Dan Shepherd series. 'The Basement' certainly did not disappoint and I will continue to look out for this author's work.
Excellent value reading at under £1.
11 comment| 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Although only as long as half of a standard Stephen King short story, this tale of a sicko serial killer hits all the right notes, and hits them in quick succession. Someone is reducing the numbers in the secretarial pool one female at a time, and the prime suspect is an anti-social and unsuccessful writer of screenplays named Marvin.

Marvin has a genius level IQ, and the only thing between him and success is the huge wall constructed by the Secretaries of this world, barring his work from getting into the right hands.

On the case are two NYPD detectives, who have their work cut out for them trying to deal with Marvin, who gets more and more obnoxious at each meeting. While this is going on, the reader gets a view from the eyes of the killer as the next victim is tortured and abused.

The torture sequences do not evoke stomach-churning nausea, but the brutality is obvious and you know you wouldn't want to be there. The writing style isn't the best, and the brevity takes away somewhat from the plot development, but the ending comes from out of nowhere, and it ain't a happy ever after.

Amanda Richards, December 31, 2011
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on January 14, 2012
This book was a mysterious page turner until the ending. I won't spoil it, but it lacked credibility and the "surprise" ending left me scratching my head in disbelif. Read it anyway, and draw your own conclusions.
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on March 21, 2013
The book was too short for me, I was reading it in my Kindle for Ipod app and was taken by surprise when I noticed I was almost done with it after just reading it for a few hours.
However, the story makes up for it. It was extremely engaging and entertaining. The plot twist at the end was great, and I honestly couldn't get enough of the story as I was reading.
The actual writing is very poor. I found a few grammatical errors and at times was disappointed with the way the book is written. Luckily, this doesn't bother me enough since the story was interesting, I don't care if it's not quality literature, it's a very good read and will keep you entertained.
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VINE VOICEon November 17, 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I don't really like it when writers talk about writing, in their writing. I find it a little lazy. Sort of like D-List Actors talking about acting when they are supposed to be acting. I'm not sure how many novels this author has written, but I presume this is one of the first. One of the main characters is supposed to be a struggling screenwriter. There are therefore long diatribes about the difficulties of writing, the type of tools the character uses to write (a typewriter of course), and the challenges of breaking into the biz. I find most of the characterizations in the book unoriginal, and I find the writing a little slack.
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on May 8, 2014
Sometimes I wonder why I read stories with dark themes like this. It was a disturbing story which, I guess, means that it was well-written. Definitely not a feel good story. It kept me guessing, making suppositions and finally getting it all wrong.
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