Especially Heinous: 272 Views of Law & Order SVU,
a novella by Carmen Maria Machado
I saw the title for this and just had to take a peek because it sounded different – okay, that and I know enough of SVU to appreciate where the author *could* be going with it. I have to admit that at first it sounded like an essay about the show, which was interesting enough. Wasn’t sure what to expect.
I’m absolutely thrilled I followed through.
This is an interesting read, rather creepy (in pretty much all ways) with a crisp, fresh style that kept my attention. Certainly I raise my glass to the author over the imagery. There are some very potent, clear images contained in the very small spaces. Very tight writing with deliberately chosen words, many of which I could tell the author was careful to choose to leave just the right impression. This gets an automatic thumbs up from me: if I can see it, hear it, feel it, the author has done their job.
Though I forewarn potential readers: this, like the show, is not furry rabbits and rainbows or dancing babies. It’s also NOT for kids. While it doesn’t require an iron stomach, just beware the “adult/18+” content and darkness within. Machado doesn’t back down from the grotesque, strange, or the turn-your-stomach thoughts. Placed upon the backdrop of sexual crimes, it’s not a light read. Quite sinister. Disturbing. And, in my opinion, in-line with the skin-crawling emotions those crimes make most of us feel.
Going back to the word choices: at least once I found myself groaning and saying “Oh, God, that’s so wrong”. Many times, I found myself laughing at the dark humour, like this gem: ‘The serial killer sends a note to Benson and Stabler. All it says is “Oops.'” Other times, I was chuckling in that way one does at cleverness, especially at the parts that seemed like Jack Handy could’ve rolled with them (one particular favourite: “Stabler never told Benson about his little brother. But he also never told her about his older brother, which was more acceptable, because he didn’t know about him, either.”)
As a while, this was an enjoyable read that’s one part SVU, one part Ghost Whisperer, and the rest of the pie speculative fiction. There are many things here that hit the literary nail on the head, with several quote-worthy moments.
But the imagery, the imagery. Did I mention the imagery? And extra points to Machado for “Make it so”. I’d say that she did.
The novella’s listing on Goodreads
Carmen’s website: http://carmenmariamachado.com/
Carmen on Twitter