The Goodreads Killer by Dave Franklin

The Goodreads Killer - Dave Franklin

Not rated because the important matters related to this book transcend anything that could be evaluated in terms of like-dislike.


On the surface, it's a very bad "my first story" -style romp that requires suspension of disbelief beyond that necessary for consuming The Eye of Argon. But then the twist kicks in and it's revealed 

that it's all a hallucination of a mentally disturbed writer.

(show spoiler)


Thus the ambiguity that divides the readership is born: is this a parody/satire or a malicious threat masking as one?



But is there really ambiguity? If this is meant to be a parody, why tack on "a revenge fantasy" as the tagline?


Either way, one thing is certain: the message. "Internet is a cruel place," it says, "and as a part of it, so is Goodreads."


The message is not wrong, regardless of the way we're supposed to take it.


It is a cold and hollow place. On the threads of World Wide Web, no one can hear you scream.


And this book is screaming.


It screams: PLEASE STOP ME


And neither the fans or the detractors are listening.


Do you know who has problems dealing with criticism? Roland Emmerich.


What does he do?


Well, first he had the "scientist no one listens to" staple character. He's gradually giving up on the pretense and making it a writer character. We may yet see a movie director or producer or at least scriptwriter one day. He also made a fictional copy of Roger Ebert and made him the most incompetent mayor ever, in fact or fiction.


But the hero no one listens to is saving the world, not avenging himself. He does not stalk and plot the doom of the authorities who do not listen; he does not go after Roger Ebert stand-in and kill him in a most unpleasant way. If the plot demands, the disaster might do it for him, but it's not guaranteed. Heck, Mayor Ebert survives the Godzilla attack, if with zero approval rating.


Why? Because whatever you might think of his talent, Roland Emmerich is still a healthy and hale person.


The "revenge fantasy" of this book does not only cross the limits of polite society, it crosses the limits that would make enraged Harlan Ellison pause. And there were many opportunities for the author to stop and think. When deciding to write it down. When deciding to share it with the world. While editing. When deciding to publish rather than post on a blog. Many times through various checkpoints one has to stop and click at for the book to be e-published. And every day the story is still out. This has gone way beyond "spur-of-the-moment" rage that could happen to anyone.


And that's only the story.


Now guess where each of these lines are from.


"I might hunt you down."


"Beforehand I'd always let such a frivolous impulse fade but these days - and I am not proud of this - the pictures lurking in the corners of my mind are gaining in colour, detail and intensity. I fight them, I really do, but the scenario seems to have a life of its own, slowly taking shape and maybe dreaming of the day it gets unleashed into the real world."


"Despite my very best efforts at restraint, I'm afraid I've already started...planning. You know, plotting a bit. Gathering details about your movements and habits. That sort of thing."


"Gorging on the sight of your stricken face as I finally take the centre stage in your life."


"And don't think I don't know about the others. The ones you fawn over. Just tell me - why are you so in thrall with their rampant mediocrity?"


"Kneeling before you with my heart in my hands only seems to result in you jumping into bed with them. Do you not understand how much love I've lavished on you? Call me tetchy, but some days you simply seem unworthy of my great sacrifice."


"So help me. Accept my tender embrace."


"And you'll only have yourself to blame."




No, none of these are from a horror story.


No, none of these are from a "true crime" account/excerpt from a diary of a stalker/murderer.


No, none of these are from a new crime thriller.


No, none of these are from a new PNR with hot and possessive inhuman male lead.


All of these lines come from the preface. A preface that has in no way been linked to the story proper. A preface that I'm 99% sure is the Word Of Author. It is addressed to the reader and sounds more as the explanation of the origin of the story than a part of it. In which, as you can see from the lines above, giving attention to more than one author is the equivalent of being sexually promiscuous and one day "you, dear reader" might find yourself suffering for your wicked, unfaithful ways. And it will all be your fault, for how dare you not return the love author gave to you specifically.


Yes, Internet is a cruel and harsh place where few care for the problems of others. But it does not have to be that way. After all, there are keen watchers out there that can detect the threat of potential assault masquerading as unsavoury jokes or song lyrics. Let us reach out as well, to both prevent the worst possible outcome and help this lonely, hurt soul.


I'm afraid I don't live in a relevant country, so the institutions that might help are beyond my reach, but if I may suggest the first-aid measure: stop exposing yourself to the irritant. Delete the bookmarks and the history. Stop interacting with the community that causes you distress. Terminate your membership in the club you don't feel welcome in.