Book Reviews

True Crime (2019) by Samantha Kolesnik Review

Official synopsis: Suzy and her brother, Lim, live with their abusive mother in a town where the stars don’t shine at night. Once the abuse becomes too much to handle, the two siblings embark on a sordid cross-country murder spree beginning with their mom. As the murder tally rises, Suzy’s mental state spirals into irredeemable madness.

The character of Suzy embodies feelings of self loathing and disconnect. The constant yearning to be rid of physical appendages and the permanent habitation of anger tells what it feels like to be stuck in a cycle of abuse. The musings on men resonate with those who’ve ever been victimized and patronized, belittled and used. Getting into the head of this character will make you angry, angry for what she’s feeling and what she’s been through. It’ll make you angry that she’s turned inhumane because of other’s lack of humanity. There were moments when I felt some of the protagonist’s thoughts were repetitive. But that’s the mind of trauma victim, isn’t it? Constantly reliving and being unsure of where to place the hurt. There’s a need to scream your story sometimes. When I applied that reasoning to it, it made that character all the more real.

I don’t know if age is making my edges softer but reading this both saddened and excited me. It’s harsh, and as a co-host of a show about extreme horror films, I can definitely get behind that. But the origins of a tragic figure are usually the most crushing stories you’ll hear and this one is no exception. Comparisons to Ketchum are completely valid, as the restraint on indecency doesn’t exist in the world of True Crime.

Kolesnik’s voice is straightforward and it gives Suzy her blunt exterior. She had the courage to say things we’ve all shamefully thought at some point. The vocabulary is educated and calculated, seemingly too advanced for a kid but the timeline does shift, and that problem is quickly resolved. The tone was consistent and there wasn’t a moment of relief from all the relentless hardships Suzy and Lim dealt with and caused. It’s a quick read, clocking in at under 200 pages, and sucks you in from the first page.

I loved it. I loved the rage, I loved the rawness of it. It was fucked up, just like the world. More stories need to be told from this point of view.

True Crime is a fearless freshmen in a school of tired serial killer novels. It had its own agenda and didn’t try to adhere to a curriculum. That made it’s impact all the more felt, sincerely and deeply.

Samantha Kolesnik is an award-winning writer and film director living in central Pennsylvania. Her screenplays and short films have been recognized at top genre film festivals and her fiction has appeared in notable literary magazines including The Bitter Oleander, The William and Mary Review, and Barnstorm. She is one of the co-founders of the Women in Horror Film Festival. Personally, her short film Mama’s Boy is just as profound as her debut novel and has had a lasting impression on me as a viewer.


Preorder True Crime here and follow Sam on Instagram @ sarukokole and on Facebook for updates on her book and future endeavors.

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