Les Edgerton’s The Rapist isn’t gonna hold your hand. Well, you probably figured as much seeing how, you know, it’s called The Rapist for fuck’s sake – a breezy, cozy quilting mystery this shit most likely ain’t. But this beast, published by basement-crazy fan-favorite indie house New Pulp Press, isn’t even the visceral anti-hero piece of nasty you might expect from that title either. Really what The Rapist is is one part Nabokov, one part Kundera, and a big fat fistful of…jesus, I don’t even know what. (Way to cop out, Nerd!) What I do know is that it’s one of the most original pieces of crime fiction you’re likely to read this year.
Our story is related by Truman Ferris Pinter, a self-styled intellectual and all-around misanthrope waiting for the gallows on death row. He was put there after being convicted for the murder and rape of a girl from his hometown. (He’ll freely confess to the rape but the murder? He swears she slipped and drowned on her own.) With his few remaining hours on earth Truman tries to justify his actions and life to us (while also claiming he doesn’t need our validation) while also practicing flying – not because he wants to escape, but in order to fly away and then return to the gallows just to show how little the world can hurt (or even matters to) him.
Truman tells this tale with a cutting, sophisticated voice that’s dripping with disdain, finding time to show us all of his many areas of expertise, from his brutal and anti-social philosophies to his knowledge of other cultures. He takes trips away from his physical body and into mindscapes that are fraught with psychological scars and hints as to how he became the man he is today. Truman even has a curious chat with someone that might be God himself. In other words, this isn’t some ticking-clock beach read thriller in the fucking slightest.
That said, The Rapist is extremely entertaining, darkly funny, thought-provoking, and imaginative. So if you’re open to a crime novel that is sprinting away from the beaten path like a herd of buffaloes is coming through, this motherfucker should shoot to the top of your TBR-pile toot-sweet.