Review: Strawberries by Casey Bartsch


Published by Ten of Swords Publishing

4 stars


Strawberries is the name he has been given.
When they let him out, they had no way of knowing what he was. A psychopath. A killer.

The body count is at twenty already, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Agent Harry Bland can’t see one anyway. He doesn’t have a single clue to go on. It doesn’t help that his mind won’t focus. His heart just isn’t in it anymore.

Half way across the country, Sylvia is in a different state of mind. When she isn’t selling sex to the rich, she is doing her best to disappear. She lives a life of assumed names, one night stands, and a constant stream of narcotics. Sylvia has heard of Strawberries. Of course she has. So has everyone who has turned on the television or surfed the net. Yet, she has no way of knowing just how much his life will affect hers.

Seedy hotels, cross country truckers looking for the meaning of life, homemade pie, a reporter with her own secret agenda, obscenely expensive champagne, and plenty of spilled blood await our cast. But make sure to read fast…..Strawberries has killed number 21




**Thank you to the author for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

It’s been a while since I read a serial killer novel, but I’d just finished re-watching series 1 of Hannibal (is there anything more glorious?) and was in the mood for something just like this.

I’m going to explain the star rating on my review before getting into it: I loved the book, the characters and the story so why might I have been so tightfisted with the sparklies?

Well, this book has a little bit of debut novel syndrome, where the second half flows better than the first when the author really figured out his own voice for writing. So, I figured that I’m going to save that final star of perfection for his next book which his Goodreads author page  states that he is diligently working on – I can tell from this book that Bartsch has some real talent and so I’m holding my breath for his next work!

This book was a thriller, a mystery and a horror. It didn’t hold back on the violence and gore; the killer’s victims dying in a whole myriad of icky and messy ways.

The chapters alternate between the killer, the FBI agent sent to track him down, a dysfunctional sky-prostitute with a pill problem, a journalist who may have the answer to what connects them all, and a pair of brothers on a road trip. This gives you a broad view of what’s going on from different perspectives and was executed artfully, giving you just enough to follow on and draw your own conclusions without spelling every last thing out for you (pet peeve of mine).

The characters were really well developed, especially considering how many there were to follow. My favourite would have to be Sylvia, aforementioned sky-prostitute (the airplane kind, not the satellite TV kind) with a pill problem. She’s ballsy and in control despite her obvious issues, her voice in this book was the one that kept me utterly hooked.

Being a thriller, it would be rude of me to give away any of the plot but I can tell you that it isn’t too predictable. It pretty much cuts a direct line between horror and mystery, with the strange nature of the killer and the brutal ways he dispatches his victims, but the sheer depth of all the characters rounds the story off nicely.

This story takes place in a variety of locations and I thought they were all really well described, giving a slightly jarring contrast between the homely settings and the horrible things that take place in them.

One more author to stick on my ‘to follow’ list!

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