Blake Crouch, Jack Kilborn, and J. A. Konrath, Serial Uncut (Amazon Digital Services, 2010)
I was a big fan of Blake Crouch's first novel, but then I stopped reading him for some reason I don't quite recall. I've never experienced Kilborn/Konrath (everyone knows they're the same person, yes?), so I figured I'd bone up on what Blake's been up to and get a taste of another mystery writer at the same time with this inexpensive little ebook that's had a few of my friends raving for months now. Not in the same way the publishers did (one doesn't talk about something being the most gruesome thing ever when one is a connoisseur of extreme horror, because there's always a more gruesome thing just around the corner). It turned out to be shallow, but kinda fun: the guys take various serial killers (and Jack Daniels, Kilborn's PI heroine) from their more established novels and stick them all in the same scenario with some innocent bystanders and see how things play out.
Given a bit more work, this could have been a really absorbing study of the mentality. They have the framework for such a book in place, with tentative untrusting friendships, mentorships, and the like blossoming between the various serial killers, but every time we might find ourselves in a serious psychological treatment, the authors pull back and remember that they're writing a straight genre thriller. Which means fast-paced, easy to read, and with all the depth of the average Pennsylvania pothole. But it's fun, it's pretty solid, and you can blow through it in a couple of hours. Empty calories, but like a lot of empty calories, they taste pretty darn good. ***