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Butterfly Skin by Sergey Kuznetsov

This English translation of Sergey Kuznetsov’s early 2000’s psychological thriller, “Butterfly Skin” came out in September of 2014.  It was translated from the Russian by Andrew Bromfield.  The novel may appeal to those who liked “The Silence of the Lambs,” or Nesbo’s “The Snowman.”  I would characterize this novel as “Fifty Shades of Gray” meets “The Silence of the Lambs.”  Whether or not it is successful at holding the reader’s attention is partly a matter of taste.  For my taste, I find the novel flawed.

In order to keep me interested in reading such a graphically violent and sexually demeaning novel I must be immediately riveted by the protagonist and find some element of the serial killer’s personality or story so fascinating that it is worth it for me to slog through pages of very descriptive horror in order to see how the story develops between the protagonist and the killer.

I have read the first third of the book and so far the first person machinations of the protagonist and the killer leave me cold and unmoved.

The protagonist is a young female e-newspaper editor who decides to do a special series on a Moscow serial killer who leaves most of his victims, raped, skinned alive and with eyes cut out and jammed in the females’ more private orifices.  The bodies are left in places where they will be easily found.  As it happens the newspaper editor prefers her sex to be of the S&M variety.   So far, this plot and the extremely self-absorbed characters leave me uncaring about there fates and unwilling to spend more time wallowing in the book to see if something sparks my attention further on.

It happens sometimes that a book is just not my cup of tea.  I recognize, however, that this book may appeal to some readers.  It may appeal to some as a social commentary on contemporary Russian social issues.  It may also appeal to some for the horror and the rough sex.

I am neither recommending nor giving both thumbs down on “Butterfly Skin.”  For myself, I have simply chosen not to finish the book.

Liz Nichols

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