The Serial Killers Club is a fun, light read that makes this mystery Idunit perfect vacation reading on the beach or on the plane. Jeff Povey, one of the writers behind the BBC’s Eastenders, has put together an undemanding page turner that is definitely original and, at times, humorous. Unfortunately, whoever put out the contract for the cover for The Serial Killers Club probably put an ad in Soldier Of Fortune instead of looking for a serious artist: this is one ugly cover that makes this great read look like a vanity press release. This is definitely a case of not judging a book by its cover.

The Serial Killers Club by Jeff Povey is conversational in tone and this is most appropriate as this mystery is about a group of serial killers, or skillers, who regularly meet in a Chicago greasy spoon in an FBI’s Most Wanted Algonquin Round Table setup. Each member of this rather elite club is recruited through personal ads in the paper and membership is based on having a sufficiently impressive body count. Each member chooses a moniker out of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame so you get mass murderers who go under the name Tony Curtis, Cher, Carole Lombard, Tallulah Bankhead, James Mason, and, the latest recruit Douglas Fairbanks jr. Douglas Fairbanks jr. is, however, an imposter.

After Douglas Fairbanks jr., the narrator of The Serial Killers Club, narrowly escapes becoming the latest victim of a skiller nicknamed Grandson Of Barney by turning the tables on him he searches his victim’s pockets and discovers serial killers meet in Chicago on a fairly regular basis. As no one nows what Grandson Of Barney looks like, Douglas immediately gets accepted in the club.  When he runs out of stories to tell about his kills he claims killer’s block (a malady akin to writer’s block). What Douglas is not saying is he is knocking off the members of the serial killer’s club one by one.

Meanwhile, an FBI agent has tracked down the man he believes is Grandson Of Barney and, because he approves of Douglas killing off other serial killers, convinces him to continue on his mission; after all, what is more damning for a serial killer to simply disappear off the map and be forgotten by everyone when, in most cases, they get captured, have a media heavy trial, a few books, and a bunch of women who want a jailhouse wedding.

A lot of the fun in this comic mystery novel by Jeff Povey is centered on Douglas’ many rather clumsy and very lucky attempts at knocking off the skillers. The many scenes in the Chicago greasy spoon where the killers meet and their definite weirdness are also good fun. There is also the mystery in the mystery as to who is the Kentucky Killer, a non-member of the club who has a kill a day and who leaves behind a bucket of the Colonel’s best and those nice lemon-scented wipes.

The Serial Killers Club is a rather funny mystery novel. There are a lot of very comic bits at the expense of serial killers, the many television news specials about them, the know-nothing psychiatrists interviewed on said news shows, and the whole “it’s my mother’s fault” line of defense many skillers seem to adopt.  This is great, great fun though Jeff Povey is a bit uneven when it comes to his main character. At the beginning of The Serial Killers, Douglas meets a gorgeous woman on the plane: “I sincerely regret taking down her phone number wrong. The one she gave me turned out to be a fish factory….”   This kind of humor is unfortunately not repeated very often though the main character is definitely more of an inept and unbelievably lucky goof than a skilled killer killjoy.

For some reason, I kept wondering who would play who in the movie version of this mystery novel. The name that kept popping up for the main character is Mitch Fatel.

The Serial Killer’s Club by Jeff Povey is a fun mystery novel. Not a classic mind you more the kind of comic thriller you’ll definitely want to lend to a friend after you read it but not really care if you get it back and not just because the cover is really ugly

The Serial Killers Club
Jeff Povey
Warner Books 2006
280 pages

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