Book Title: RANDOM
Author: Craig Robertson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
No of Pages: 329
Glasgow is being terrorised by a serial killer the media have nicknamed The Cutter. The murders have left the police baffled. There seems to be neither rhyme nor reason behind the killings; no kind of pattern or motive; an entirely different method of murder each time, and nothing that connects the victims except for the fact that the little fingers of their right hands have been severed.
One of the things that I really like about reading review books is that I constantly find absolutes in my reading tastes aren't. Ask me about serial killer books before reading RANDOM and I would have categorically stated been there, over it. Add being inside the serial killer's head for the entire of the book and I'd have put my hand on my heart and said it's all too tedious. Then I read RANDOM and found myself really hooked on the internal monologue of a serial killer.
Based in Glasgow, RANDOM, on one level is your typical serial killer book. Unconnected victim's, strange signature from the killer, police are baffled. This time the killer isn't using a signature methodology, and there doesn't seem to be any rhyme nor reason to the killings. Whilst there is a police investigation and DS Rachel Narey is struggling against pressure from police hierarchy and the shenanigans that go on at that level when the media are finally alerted (by our killer) to the connections, this isn't really a story of the pursuit of a killer. Where RANDOM starts to vary is that our serial killer in this book is undoubtedly vicious and driven and quite quite odd - but he's also flawed and not mad, and strangely not totally bad. He's also made a big mistake with the selection of one of his victims which makes his life very very complicated and the police pursuit the least of his problems. Told from the point of view of the killer, his true identity is slowly revealed, as are the methods he is using to select his victims, the way that he kills his victims, and even more slowly, his reasons.
RANDOM really was a book that I simply wasn't expecting, especially after reading the blurb with that slow sinking feeling. But being a review book, you have to press on and I am really really glad I did. It seems a very odd thing to be saying about a serial killer book, but I enjoyed this book. RANDOM is undoubtedly manipulative, the reader is pulled into this killer's mind and into his life in a way that was subtle and clever. Balancing the way that this man selects his victims, the way that he is so ruthless in his decisions on who to kill and who not to, against a home life that is not your typical abusive, weird family relationship, but something more touching, sad, heart-breaking; and I did find myself in a really odd place - feeling sympathy for a serial killer.
There's a final twist in the tail of this book which on one level I knew was probably coming, but I didn't quite expect the way it played out. And it was affecting, and challenging and sad and right and wrong all at the same time. RANDOM was a real reading revelation for me. Flagged as a thriller it is a pacy, tense and disturbing book. It's also a reflective, moving and quite emotional book. Perhaps if you're a reader who holds their preference for no more serial killers under any circumstances closer to their core than I do, this might not be the book for you. For me, it was one of those books that took all my reading assumptions, pitched them out a window and ran over them with a bus just to make sure they were well dead and buried.