Trigger Warning: The book reviewed in this post, A Killer’s Reflection by Cheryl Denise Bannerman, contains depictions of rape, drug and alcohol abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, homophobia, violence, and foul language. If any of these subjects trigger you or you otherwise wish to avoid them, proceed with caution.
Happy Monday, everyone—or Tuesday, depending on where you are. I want to start the week with another book review, this time of an erotic thriller. (Yes, I have wandered back into the “erotic” genre!) This book, a brief but compelling psychological thrill ride, is A Killer’s Reflection by Cheryl Denise Bannerman.
A Killer’s Reflection follows Douglass Randall Coleman, Jr., as he grows from a straight-A student in the projects to a soldier in the U.S. military and, finally, a full-grown man with a job and kids. On the outside, he is charming, hardworking, and, well, perfect. At least, that’s what his mother would tell you. Yet everything is not what it seems. Douglass is a party boy with an addiction to alcohol, women, and drugs of all kinds. He also harbors a dangerous secret: the voices, the voices in his mind which won’t shut up, and an unyielding temper and need for control that push him into committing the most heinous acts imaginable.
Bannerman gives readers Douglass’s perspective for most of the novel but, especially during the second half, she also shows us glimpses into other key characters: Tara, a woman in Douglass’s sphere of influence (and danger); Dr. Reed, a female therapist Douglass has been talking with on the phone since his Honorable Discharge from the military; and Rhodes and Kreegan, homicide detectives hell-bent on making certain that Douglass gets what he deserves. But can they prove that this modern-day Casanova has done anything wrong? Or will Douglass Coleman, Jr., get away with murder again?
In 125 pages, Bannerman creates an intricate world of mystery, mayhem, and murder with only Douglass at its center. Unlike many thrillers, the mystery does not lie in who did it as much as why he does it and if he will be caught. Bannerman’s writing made me constantly wonder not if Douglass was going to snap but when. She drops subtle hints as to Douglass’s triggers and the trauma which made him that way, allowing readers to guess at what will happen without spoiling the plot.
Bannerman’s captivating storytelling is due in part to the fact that she thoroughly utilizes the resources available to her and lets the reader know about those resources. In the first chapter from Dr. Reed’s perspective, Bannerman begins by citing her sources for Dr. Reed’s diagnosis of Douglass. These citations give a level of credibility to her work that is often missing in other tales involving mental illness. Still, I feel that the citations would have been best placed at the end of the book rather than accompanying the chapter. The read would have been smoother for this chapter without the resources there, and they would have made more sense along with the childhood abuse statistics and resources.
I loved being shown the killer’s side of the story, the why’s and how’s and childhood issues which made him the man he is by the end of the novel. However, I felt that the structure left something to be desired. For the most part, we follow Douglass from start to end in chronological order. While Douglass’s childhood is key to understanding him, starting the book with his childhood makes the ending somewhat anticlimactic. Had his childhood and years in the military been interwoven into the narrative present—i.e. Douglass’s adulthood—I think the tension would have been that much stronger and the plot that much more compelling.
In addition to feeling anticlimactic, the final chapter feels rushed. The reveal of the big twist—which I will not discuss in detail here due to spoilers—happens rather quickly, as does the explanation behind the twist. More interactions among Douglass and the surprise characters would have made for a slower reveal and, therefore, a more satisfying ending. Douglass’s reaction to it all is also rather mild compared to the development of his temper to that point. In the face of betrayal, I expected him to have a complete mental breakdown, but his anger appears muted compared to his earlier reactions. When he knows he’s doomed, why would he hold back?
I also found many grammatical errors. For those most part, these did not detract from the reading experience. However, one repeating error became tiresome: the narration sometimes slipped from third person to first person. There are moments when this shift made sense, namely when entering Douglass’s thoughts. Yet not all of the shifts are during Douglass’s thoughts; sometimes it occurs for no reason, along with some instances of going from past tense to present tense and back again. These issues are only a matter of more thorough proofreading. If Bannerman releases a newer Kindle version that has been edited/proofread again, I would not hesitate to recommend this book.
Despite these critiques, I think A Killer’s Reflection is an exciting page-turner right for most thriller fans. There are depictions of violence and even more of sex, including rape, but so long as you are not sensitive to or triggered by graphic images, you will really enjoy this novel.
If you want to read Bannerman’s A Killer’s Reflection, you can find it as an e-book on Amazon. To learn more about Cheryl Denise Bannerman and her other works, check out her website at www.bannermanbooks.com.