Harry Block is a writer whose dubious bio includes a stint at Raunchy magazine, a series of sci-fi books, and some “urban experience” pulp starring a black Jewish private eye named Mordechai Jones. Most recently he has found success in the trendy confines of the vampire genre. His half-baked schemes and “successes” aren’t enough, however, for him to give up his day job tutoring a high school student (who doubles as his life coach). So when a letter arrives from Darian Clay, a serial murderer on death row, offering to spill his secrets for what’s sure to be a bestselling memoir, Harry enthusiastically swallows the pitch—but, of course, there is a catch. Clay just needs Harry to visit a few of his female admirers, women with a thing for serial killers, and pen some stories in the Raunchy vein for Clay to read at his leisure. Inevitably when these women start turning up gruesomely murdered, the hack writer ends up the prime suspect.
There’s a lot going on in The Serialist. Aside from the whodunit, it is a study of the seemingly contradictory elements that make up crime fiction. Harry is a writer both intrigued and disgusted by his subject matter—and the same goes for the reader. With his impressive debut novel, David Gordon examines the fascination that murder holds in our society, and its consequences, all within the structure of a thriller plot that rolls along to a convincing ending.