Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Book Review:

The Basement - Stephen Leather
Product Details
This was actually labelled on Amazon as, The Basement: Serial killer thriller with a breathtaking twist. This kind of thing annoys me for two reasons:
1)    If you have written a book with a good twist why would you want to draw attention to the fact and have the reader second guessing the plot?
2)    I fall for it every time.
You see I like a good twist. Not many books blow me away with a twist at the end. Only Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane and one of the James Patterson Alex Cross books have ever really succeeded in fooling me.
The Basement was my first foray into Stephen Leather. An author I had heard of but never tried. This was a novella (coming in around 160 pages) that had been getting good reviews on Amazon.
The story focuses on two POV. The first is of an arrogant failed writer and prime suspect Marvin Waller. The second told mostly in second person of the “killer.” The two work well together. The writer has an extremely high IQ and is intensely annoying but at the same time great to read. Throughout the book he shares numerous ideas of storylines he is thinking off. Most are actually quite good and it is this that has made me want to read more from Mr Leather.
The story that follows is an intriguing tale of one-upmanship. As Marvin goes out of his way to annoy the two detectives investigating the latest girl that has gone missing. Marvin is amusing but you really feel for the detectives too as he constantly delays their enquiries with semantics.
Some reviewers has complained about the second POV – that of the serial killer. All of the killer’s scenes take place in the Basement as the killer watches and messes with the girl. Said reviewers say these scenes are too graphic. I don’t agree. They are not anything that has appeared in countless other thrillers I have read and the description always stops before the killer goes too far.
The twist when it happens, totally fooled me. I liked it even if it didn’t necessarily make sense. I would have to re-read the book to say for sure though.
One thing I didn’t like (and this is unrelated to the story) is that on Amazon Stephen Leather felt compelled to respond to the 1 star reviews. Initially, he is really childish and for every one star review he posts a 5 star review in the comment section. This almost turned me off him, but having delved deeper into the reviews, when the first 1 star reviews appeared, he does try to respond to the criticism in a constructive way and explain what he was trying to do. I guess he just got frustrated and let his guard down. Still I think it harmed his reputation rather then enhanced it.
Overall then, I enjoyed this story a lot and have already downloaded the first in his main series.
My Rating: 8.4


  1. Saw this book on Amazon and downloaded to my Kindle. Not my normal type of book,and I had never read anything else of the author so I took a chance asit sounded different. Although I was nearly put off by the review that you mentioned, saying it was very graphic.
    Glad I didn't take any notice, as I enjoyed the story, and certainly didnt find anything that the review mentioned, made me wonder what type of books that person normally read to be honest.
    The ending took me totally by surprise, though looking back over the story I keep looking for clues that I might have missed first time round. Hope to see more about your own writing soon, Catherine.

  2. Thank you, it is surprising how a throwaway comment in a review can really influence people (myself included). Pleased you read it and enjoyed it.