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Inspiring the inner serial killer in us all, SLICE OF CHERRY, the second book in the Portero series by Dia Reeves (pictured), calls forth the latent demons in a big way.
Fancy and Kit Cordelle are sisters and daughter to Guthrie, the Bonesaw Killer: infamous serial killer and resident of Portero, Texas. He has been nabbed by the police, leaving the sisters and their mom to fend for themselves. Madda (Mom) works long hours, often leaving the sisters to their own machinations. Hmmm…what might the sisters enjoy as a hobby?
Killing and dissecting animals and keeping their body parts in jars. I think that is a good career start! They even have a pet of their own. His name is Franken. He used to be a boy who had broken in to steal something from the Bonesaw Killer’s house, but now he stays tied up in the cellar where the girls practice with their switchblade. Cut, sew up, cut, sew up, rinse and repeat! Franken, get it?
The book is a character study focusing on Fancy, the younger sister. She is more withdrawn while her sister Kit is more outgoing. They are on the cusp of womanhood (or, maybe I should say boys) and are having to make decisions about where their lives are going to take them.
Fancy has a hard time with change, and as Kit begins to stray from her side (for a boy, of course), she starts to feel betrayed and left alone. Her father left her, her friends and the townspeople have left her due to her father’s actions, and now the closest person on the planet is changing and may be moving on. What to do?
How about some old fashioned violence to bring them together! A great family moment can be defined in a warm and touching way. Take a would-be rapist, eviscerate him, and sit together in a tree waiting and watching while the wild animals begin to feed on him while he’s still alive. This is why Reeves is so heartwarming (still beating = warm!); drawing upon her inner soul to bring us such tender moments of sisterly love and closeness. Incredible!
There are many unique and twisted deaths, leading to other unique and twisted bits of insanity. Madda’s main complaint with Guthrie was about him lying about the murders. Should Fancy and Kit let her know the truth and risk the consequences? (My mom’s mantra was a bit different: “Just don’t get caught.”) Should they be truthful with her, as she says she wants, or will the truth cause the family to be torn apart?
Beyond the general insanity, I can say without a doubt that Reeves has carved a very colorful character (blood red!), fully flawed, with the skill of a surgeon. I highly recommend SLICE OF CHERRY if you are looking for something that is extremely off in morality, has a twisty-turny path, and is so well crafted that you won’t know what hit you. It is not required, but I suggest reading the first entry in the series, BLEEDING VIOLET (reviewed here), and enjoy the entirely different characters and story, both set in the awesomely bloody town of Portero, TX.
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