First published back in November of 2012, ‘The Venus Complex’ formed the debut novel for Canadian-born actress turned author – Barbie Wilde.

DLS Synopsis:
Professor Michael Friday knew that his wife, Angie, had been having an affair with one of his best friends - Charlie Landru.  And it all came to a head whilst they were driving back from a Halloween dinner party where Charlie and his wife had been at.  Michael had had a couple of drinks, which eased the question of his wife’s infidelity out from him.  And with the question out in the air, she admitted to it all.  In fact, with her affair out in the open at last, she chose then to announce intentions of finally leaving Michael.

He was angry.  Actually, at that point Michael Friday wanted nothing more than to see his wife dead.  So, with his head clear of all other thoughts, he pressed down on the accelerator of the 1968 Mustang GT, left the road, and purposefully ploughed into a large maple tree – not before leaning over and undoing his wife’s seatbelt.

The end result was one rather dead wife and some lengthy recovery time for him before he was able to walk again unaided.

Following the ‘Accident’, Friday decided to take a long break from his job as a tutor in history of art at Syracuse University.  He now had all the time in the world to do what he wanted; with little to no commitments other than to start the journal which his annoying doctor, Dr Cordess, had advised would help vent his anger.

But in his head things very slipping further and further into a dark and dangerous abyss.  Michael Friday was becoming increasingly frustrated with life.  His anger at the world’s blatant stupidity, something he dubbed his ‘world rage’, was escalating by the day.  His dreams were also moving into increasingly worrying territory.  His fantasies were beginning to focus upon murder, death and dominance over women.

Michael Friday knew he had to do something before he snapped.  And it all came to fruition when he picked up a beautiful cat-like prostitute and checked into a seedy hotel with her.  There, with the young hooker lying in front of him naked and prone to his intentions, he finally succumbed to his deepest and darkest fantasies.  And with that he took her life at the very point of their sexual climaxes.

And then he was hooked.  He had experienced a euphoric high above anything else he had previously felt before.  But the twisted thoughts whirling around inside of him changed when he laid eyes upon thirty-two-year-old Dr Elene Sheppard from the Psychology Department at the university.  She was everything his dead wife was not.  In his eyes she was perfection.  And he had to have her.  But he would need to set in motion a cunning plan in order to instigate their joining.

Professor Michael Friday had a plan.  And fortunately for him, it would involve the thoroughly enjoyable seduction and murder of a series of young women; all of which he would handpick and then stalk until the timing was just right.  Girls who would become the focal point in his project of transformation.  Girls who would meet their deaths at his hands to become immortalised as his beautiful goddesses within his truly divine Venus Project…

DLS Review:
Let’s not beat around the bush here.  Barbie Wilde’s first full-length novel is a pretty twisted piece of sexually-charged nastiness.  Somewhere between Bret Easton Ellis’ ‘American Psycho’ (1991), Guy Portman’s ‘Necropolis’ (2014) and the horrific true crime stories of some of the most notorious serial killers; Barbie Wilde’s serial killer diary details the gradual descent of an entirely believable sociopath into becoming a remorseless fantasy-fuelled serial killer.

Wilde kick starts her serial killer’s journal with an overview of the purposeful murder of our narrator’s wife.  Even here, during these initial pages, a hauntingly detached character, devoid of any hints of sympathy or regret, is beginning to emerge.  Indeed, this seemingly-humanless psyche forms the main characteristic of our finely sculpted narrator, which Wilde carefully chisels away at to create a well-defined and incredibly believable serial killer.

But it’s not this detached and emotionally stunted personality that makes ‘The Venus Complex’ such a strong and often gut-wrenching read.  Instead it’s undoubtedly the visceral imagery that Wilde so thoroughly, and out-and-out disturbingly, injects into Michael Friday’s brutal prose.  Indeed, throughout the length of the novel, Friday immerses the reader in his lavishly-explicit fantasies which end up dominating so much of the text.   And it’s with these very fantasies, which are played out in all their hard-hitting gruesomeness, that ultimately deliver the resounding kick to the reader’s gut.  Haunting echoes of Hubert Selby Jr’s depraved fantasies, or Brett Easton Ellis’ imaginatively contrived sadistic thrills, instantly spring to mind when Friday begins upon his next act within his Venus Project.  Indeed, those that are sometimes timid around such cold-hearted examples of human-on-human cruelty need to tread very carefully with this book.

But within all of its stark brutality there’s that lingering feeling of a worrying true-to-life realism surrounding Friday’s escapades.  This sort of detached-from-the-world sadistic perspective is very much in-line with what psychologists have been examining for decades in serial killers.  Indeed, Wilde has certainly done her homework for the tale in absolute abundance.  And her novel has well-and-truly immersed itself in the serial killer frame of mind to a disturbingly close-to-the-bone degree.

That said, it’s hard not to like Friday.  Even with all of his atrocious acts bombarding the reader, and his depraved sexual fantasies gluing the fabric of the tale together, you nevertheless find yourself rooting for the man.  He’s got that charm and open-honesty that challenges society and makes the reader see things through a set of intelligent eyes, which ultimately throws up a litany of difficult questions for the reader.  It’s a novel that revels in the internal conflict of the narrator and through him on to the reader.  It casts aside long-accepted social constraints and instead puts out a perspective that feels somehow in-tune with the base human psyche.  And that in itself is undoubtedly a reflection of the talented skill of the author.

However, for this reviewer at least, one of the most impressive aspects of the novel is in the way in which Wilde is able to tap into a male mind so convincingly.  Wilde lays down home-truths and unashamed sexual fantasies that the male mind can so often slip into.  Wilde clearly knows men.  She knows what can and will excite them.  And she allows herself to release these fantasies within her pages in an entirely unselfconscious manner.  As such, there are countless times when the book delves into sexually explicit scenes that have one hell of a sexual charge to them.  And after reading these entries, the reader can feel somewhat appalled with themselves for getting ever-so-slightly turned-on by these highly-charged passages.

All in all it’s a book that
s very difficult not to become swallowed up by.  The journal format works in its favour incredibly well.  It allows for an openness, a ‘behind-the-eyes’ and ‘into-the-mind-of’ insight into a serial killer.  Although fictional, it’s with that underlying ‘so-true-to-life element which ultimately ensnares the reader; chilling your bones and carving away your skin, flesh and bone, until your base urges are exposed with an (inevitable) self-examination keeping you awake at night for hours afterwards.

The novel runs for a total of 229 pages and includes a 3 page introduction by fellow author and ‘Hellraiser’ enthusiast Paul Kane.

© DLS Reviews


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