Robert Krieger is thirty-four, suffering from anxiety attacks and the stress of being unemployed, recently single, and worrying about his elderly mother, whose house seems always to need repair. But when his neighbor and casual acquaintance is attacked, one thing leads to another, and suddenly his life seems to be spiraling out of control.
Author Marc Berlin warns the reader in the title that the narrator of ODDBALL IN 3G isn’t exactly normal, but appearances are deceptive and the story starts out on a rather ordinary, even dull note. At first, Robert seems merely neurotic, anxious and socially awkward, somewhat overly meticulous in relating what goes on with his life, but otherwise fairly sane. Details dropped here and there, though, add lingering doubts and suspense, and as the story goes on, events get more and more dramatic, but always related in that simple, quiet, matter-of-fact tone that only gets creepier and creepier. The first-person perspective with an unreliable narrator has frequently been a useful literary technique for increasing suspense and springing surprises on the reader, and it works quite well here. Limiting our perspective to Robert’s thoughts and perspective clouds the reader’s view, keeping important plot points and facts hidden and increasing the story’s suspense and the drama of the inevitable revelations. In particular, we see other characters only through Robert’s eyes, which is particularly important in the case of another character whose motivations and true intentions only become clear near the end.
This is not a book for the squeamish, and there are some truly upsetting moments in it, both heart-wrenching and stomach-turning. But by the time those moments take place, the story is already rolling right along, and the sheer horror of what’s happening carries the reader along with it, just to see what comes next. It does take a little bit of time to get really moving, although the astute reader will pick up clues to the narrator’s true character from the very first chapter on. And once it does get moving, it doesn’t stop, going back and forth between the ordinary and the bizarre, the “normal” and the wildly abnormal, with a casual, conversational tone that mingles the two in a truly spine-chilling way. The author is absolutely brilliant at displaying the thought process of a man who is fully clear on his own motivations, feels completely sane to himself, and seems to understand exactly what he’s doing – but isn’t quite all there. Don’t pick up this book and start reading if you have anything else to do in the next hour or two – it captures the attention and it’s very hard to put down once you begin.
ODDBALL IN 3G is a disturbing, spine-chilling story whose point-of-view perspective and matter-of-fact tone only add to its horrifying force.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader