Saknussemm takes elements of noir, horror, erotica, mystery and a dose of good-old-fashioned pulp and delivers a dark carnival of a book about obsession, submission, gender and identity.
No one knows this better than Detective Birch Ritter. Saying nothing, the man leaves Ritter only a business card with an address written on the card in what looks like scarves. Or embrace the midnight darkness that waits inside of him? As Genevieve strips Ritter physically, emotionally and physiologically, he knows that he has no choice. Indeed, Private Midnight is one of the best books of 2009 so far. Private Midnight defies genre. For me, reading Private Midnight was like being inside a train that was destined to crash. While reading Private Midnight I was shocked, uncomfortable, thrilled and frightened. If you read one good book this Spring, make sure its Private Midnight.
This book is different and original, an odd blend of hard-boiled cop story, horror, and some minor bondage. Unfortunately, those chances only work occasionally and the pacing of this tale seems a little awkward, with important developments coming in sudden rushes, including many that occur far too late in the book for anything to come of them.
The publisher's blurb tells us this is a dark urban vampire story, but it isn't. Even at the end it isn't quite clear whether this falls onto the fantasy or scifi side of the shelf, but it definitely doesn't belong with the "normal" books. But there are two gotchas: First, it's hard to tell where the book is going for a long while, and everything seems just a bit less intense than expected, and the plot feels like it is wandering and wavering in its commitment. In any case, the market is a pretty narrow one: the gritty contemporary story won't be to the taste of those seeking fantasy kink (à la Kushiel's Dart), while the fantasic part is likely to completely bewilder those Ellroy fans. But that's who is likely to really enjoy this book: folks that enjoy a very creative contemporary urban kinky fantasy story.
The title of Kris Saknussemms Private Midnight conjures myriad meanings. Upon picking up the book, you may be forgiven for believing youre about to embark upon a mystery novel, and in a sense, you are, just not really the kind of mystery you have in mind. In this sense, Private Midnight is indeed a mystery novel, but for me, the mystery lies more in the self. Youre introduced to the protagonist, Detective Birch Ritter and the myriad characters that populate his life. As a reader, you have no idea where youre about to go, but already the sense exists that the ride will be worthwhile. The string of clues leads Ritter to a mysterious woman, who is the femme fatale personified. The psychological relationship between Ritter and the mystery suspect blooms in frightening clarity. You begin to develop the sense that every thought born in Ritters mind is one planted deliberately by the woman. This book is a mystery in the truest sense, but its not a mystery novel in the traditional sense.
While Alice befriended the constant flow of strange events and characters, there is but one piece of strangeness amidst a pseudo-noir setting with a two-dimensional protagonist purportedly on a quest of self-discovery through sexual situations that rival the best (or worst) of any BDSM porn film.
The Rumors Soon after the publication of ZANESVILLE, reports began circulating around Hollywood that the actor Kevin Costner was furious about being featured as the voice of Dooley Duck, one of several animated hologram characters in the story, who serve as advertising vehicles in the fictional world of the novel. A second rumor that began making the rounds that ZANESVILLE had actually been written by the late David Foster Wallace under a pseudonym, while another related and more detailed story had it that Kris Saknussemm is not an individual author at all, but rather a name taken by a collective of writers who wrote the book as a collaborative experiment, in something of the same spirit as Nicholas Bourbaki phenomenon amongst mathematicians. Appearing at Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle in 2006, Saknussemm fielded questions about the rumor, remarking, As ZANESVILLE has much to do with the idea of the Conspiracy Theory as the folk religion of our time, Im somewhat amused.