You may remember I was part of the big cover reveal for Gustavo Florentin’s The Schwarzschild Radius back in August, well now it’s time for the Review Tour too.
The Schwarzschild Radius by Gustavo Florentin
Cover Artist: Andrea Garcia
Re-Released: Curiosity Quills Press, September 23rd 2014
Narrated By: N/A
Genre: Detective, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Where Did I Get It? I received an electronic copy of the book as part of the review tour.
Summary: Rachel, an 18-year-old Columbia University student, descends into the netherworld of runaways and predators to find her sister, Olivia, who has suddenly disappeared.
After getting a job in a strip joint where Olivia worked, then doing private shows in the homes of rich clients, Rachel discovers that Olivia has been abducted by a killer who auctions the deaths of young girls in an eBay of agony.
When she finds Olivia, Rachel becomes the killer’s next target.
Ancient Greek philosophers used a face-slapping technique to ingrain a point in the student’s mind; here, it conveyed the truth that the girl was going to die.
My Review: You can tell straight from the blurb that The Schwarzschild Radius isn’t going to be a rollercoaster of laughs but it is certainly a rollercoaster. Not one for the faint of heart, either.
The very first chapter sets the scene in a way that clearly lets you know that Olivia is in big trouble and not the sort that is easily solved. The Webmaster is cool, collected and utterly merciless as he displays Olivia like a prize cow and encourages the bids in on whatever forms of pain and torture the clients desire – highest bidder gets to choose the next move. There is no limit to the depravity – it is whatever the clients can imagine up, so long as they pay then the Webmaster will arrange it and film it for them. The final stage of the auction comes when the girl can take no more and then they bid on who gets to choose how she dies.
Most of the story is told from Olivia’s sister Rachel’s perspective as she desperately tries to follow her sister’s last known footsteps and finds herself in places she never thought she’d see and doing things she never thought she would do. But desperation can give you courage and Rachel sets her limits and sticks to them, giving herself the chance to dig up some secrets from the dirty minded men who may well have been the last people to see Olivia alive.
Rachel is a great character, she is intelligent and well-grounded and doesn’t easily slip into her sister’s secret second life. She has major reservations about what she is capable of and has very natural reactions to the situations she finds herself in. There is a heavy weight of fear over the whole book but perhaps mostly in the chapters from Rachel’s view – she knows why Olivia was doing what she was doing but it is not a world Rachel is naturally equipped to survive in.
Detective John Mckenna is running the missing person case on Olivia. He is ex-army and was an excellent sniper – this makes him excellent at spotting tiny details that other people overlook but can make him seem very detached when he really gets into a case. His own marriage fell apart after he left the army and he hasn’t seen his own daughter for years so Olivia’s case really strikes a chord with him and he goes all out to solve the case.
Focused as he was, I didn’t find McKenna a particularly striking character. He was key in the end but most of the footwork seemed to be done by Rachel, almost to the point where I forgot he was around at times.
There are other viewpoints in the book, mostly of the men Rachel finds herself performing private strip shows for. These men are mostly lonely and sad, they are all rich enough to afford these shows and to tip in the hundreds but they all share a similar taste – they like their girls underage. Rachel spends most of her time pretending to be a fourteen year old to satisfy their primal urges – and the chapters written in their voices, explaining their feelings about their desires and the like are deeply unsettling. They all sound rational and normal aside from their disturbing fantasies about children – more than fantasies in some cases.
It is not an easy subject matter but Gustavo Florentin handles it brilliantly – you feel uneasy but never to the point of putting the book down. Instead some of the most engaging and interesting characters are the ones you want to hate because of their depravity. There is some very clever characterisation and it makes for some very compulsive reading, The Schwarzschild Radius was incredibly hard to put down and stayed on my mind whenever I stopped reading and well after I finished the book.
There are some very graphic scenes and it is not for anyone with a delicate disposition but as a look into the darker side of humanity and a cleverly twisting mystery thriller it is a fantastic read. I thought I had it all worked out but was proved completely wrong at the last turn, something I love in a book.
My Rating: 5/5*
If you want to read The Schwarzchild Radius for yourself, head on over to the Curiosity Quills website. Check out some of the other great books they have released recently whilst you’re there.