Verdict: JILL will appeal most to those who enjoy a gory horror novel, but could use some work to increase its believability and readability.
Jill is actually Rachel Rhodes, a loving mother and wife going through an unhappy separation from her husband – but with a secret life on the side as a bitter, anti-male serial killer nicknamed “Jill the Ripper” by the police.
Jill picks up men in bars, drugs them with a paralyzing drug stolen by her brother, a nurse (who is completely – she thinks – under her thumb), and tortures them to death. When Detective Cole Dale reveals to her, accidentally, that he is on her case, she seduces him, and even begins to dream of a life and a future with him. However, his partner, Perry Charleton, is deeply suspicious of her, and is willing to use every trick he knows – even the most final one of all – to get her caught and her killing spree ended.
The book is lively and gruesome, full of events and never dull. Perry, while temperamental and unprofessional, is surprisingly likeable, and his personality rather takes over the book whenever he’s in it. The author does not believe in sugarcoating things, and by the end of the story, while Jill is undoubtedly the clear villain, it is not clear if the book contains anyone who can survive the mean streets of life without being corrupted by them.
Jill is not a book to be read by anyone without a very strong stomach – there is a great deal of gore, bloodshed, rape, murder, etc., much of it apparently for effect. Most of the characters seem rather two-dimensional and flat, and could use a bit more attention to personality and motivation. (Rachel, for example, kills simply because some men have hurt her, her brother was favored over her, and therefore she hates men.)
Some additional internal conflict or complexity might serve the purpose of making the murderer, and thus the murders, more interesting. Some characters’ behavior, indeed, is pretty inexplicable, particularly that of Cormac, Rachel’s brother, who is apparently willing to steal dangerous drugs – regularly – from his workplace to help his sister murder random men, just because he feels bad about being the favored child. (It’s claimed that she has emotionally groomed him to be subservient to her, but we see no real evidence in the novel of the substantial emotional manipulation that would be required for that.)
Additionally, the entire police force seems incapable of behaving professionally – even the one described as strait-laced and a stickler for the rules gives up key information the moment he gets drunk and horny (in the presence of a woman who matches the description of the serial killer he’s hunting). The book can also be fairly heavy-handed in its moralizing, spelling out directly morals and judgments that would be more effective if readers were left to infer them. Jill also needs a small amount of editing to deal with the occasional typo and misused word (one that appears multiple times is the misuse of “pray” where “prey” is obviously intended).
JILL will appeal most to those who enjoy a gory horror novel, but could use some work to increase its believability and readability.
Reviewed by Katrin Birkana for IndieReader
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