On rare occasion there comes a tale that dives so deep into the mind of a killer that the reader gets ill from the spectacle. I have yet to turn down a book for review, but with Stan Lerner’s Criminal, I was tempted. The graphic violence and psychological depravity exhibited by the main character, Sam Noah, is unlike anything I’ve ever read before.
Sam is a UCLA student who gets a job working the door at a nightclub and uses it as a springboard for his ever-growing list of felonious enterprises. As a bouncer, he exhibits a joy for dominating unsuspecting patrons and taking advantage of underage girls. As a killer, he is as ruthless as any mob boss.
Secret side door ticket sales evolve into drug dealing, which evolves into a private limousine service meant to front his finances from the police and the IRS. Along the way he reaches out to disenfranchised lunatics, pushing their buttons until they become serial killers in their own right. Then Sam calls the FBI and hints about how best to catch his prodigy creations.
Sam Noah is the very definition of a criminal in all of the worst ways. He is the Nazi extension of a modern day, calculating psychopath who cares so little about the value of human life, any friend or passerby could be his next victim. His vulgarity toward these individuals is without bounds.
This book should come with a caution sign painted across the front of it. In one scene a woman is tied naked to a tree and her breasts are cut off with a carving knife. In another, two women are sniffing cocaine off the main character’s erect penis. Whether it is masochism or homicide, there is always a forward thinking line of reasoning behind Sam’s every action.
Criminal reads like the literary version of Natural Born Killers. It shows the world from the antagonist’s perspective and does not yield to self-censorship. As an epic tale it lacks the respect and structure of the Godfather and plays out more like the fast paced film, New Jack City.
Stan Lerner should be applauded for assembling this enormous project, but his audience might be limited to those with morbid fascinations and strong stomachs.Powered by Sidelines