“Some time ago, two reporters visited me, and I was as open with them as I could humanly be.  They came ever day for about two weeks and asked maybe a thousand questions.  They seemed like nice guys, but just a little edgy.  One sloshed coffee around as if I might be somewhere in the dregs.  I’m no fool, so I knew they were searching for someone no one else had – a slip on my part, an odd phrasing, a gesture, a name.  I could have toyed with them, made up corpses buried here and there.  But I just answered straight.  I try always to tell the truth.”

Most stories of serial killers are told from the point of view of the searchers – those who discover the aftermath and try and stop it from happening again.  The hunters who sniff out the killer.  This one is one of those rare books which manages to perfectly capture the killer himself and his inner dialogue (one of the other shining examples is “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote).  Arthur Bloom, now in prison, has taken it upon himself to tell the story of his capture and the story of his origin – painted and smashed against each other to rectify all the rumors and twisted facts that have been printed about him before.  Raised by a single woman who happened to have bouts of schizophrenia, Arthur is a published author, a gentleman, and a serial killer.  He tells us of his move to Mason, Missouri to teach in a temporary creative writer position at the local college.  He is still sending out a work in progress manuscript that has been rejected hundreds of times by publishers.  He meets Margaret, Grace, Nada, Justinia, and Paul Harper.  One is vicious, one is a deviant similar to himself, one he kills.  And along the way, we get to know Arthur as the person, the one who has no grasp of why his actions are wrong.

I expected this book to be more like “In Cold Blood” than it actually is.  However, the villains in “Blood” have much more soul and conscious evil than Arthur does.  Arthur is one of those frightening people you see in an episode of Criminal Minds that has no motivation to kill.  It doesn’t provide him pleasure, it doesn’t relieve anger, it just happens.  Which disturbed me more than any other part of this book.  Arthur never really becomes human to me, instead the entire book felt like it was beyond my comprehension.  Which was very frustrating.  Probably because I could never figure out the why – which there is no why.  And especially chilling when you realize this book is based on an actual man.

“An Absolute Gentleman” was written by R.M. Kinder and published in 2007.  It was her debut novel.

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