07 Bookwyrm

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Our review of Corrupts Absolutely? continues today with another of the book’s twenty-one stories of metahumans (that’s people with superpowers for you non-geeks out there). Today’s story, Mental Man, is an odd little tale about a multi-powered individual working on a crime scene unit. It was written by William Todd Rose, who was named by the Google+ Insider’s Guide as one of the top 32 authors to follow. It is a clever little bit of ambiguity that challenges the reader to draw a conclusion.

Mental Man starts with the title character sitting in the office of his therapist, struggling with the validity of his existence. After some brief exploration of the character’s past and his powers we get to the meat of the story. Working as a member of a crime scene unit, Mental Man uses his powers to relive the events at murder scenes as they track down a serial killer known as the Suburb Slayer. Despite his efforts though, the protagonist can never quite glimpse the face of this brutal killer. Obsession takes over as he uses this killer as a means to justify his own existence. Is it this that is thwarting Mental Man’s attempts at catching the Suburb Slayer, or something much darker?

This is the first time I’ve read anything by William Todd Rose and, for an ambiguous story such as this one, I think he handled it pretty well. His style shines brightest during the opening interior monolog going about Mental Man’s head while talking with his therapist. As we are taken through the history of the character, things seem to get a little cliché but pick right back up when we get to the crime scene and the reliving of the murder itself. However, we think that Rose may have hit the nail to much on the head with the ambiguity of the ending. It is still there, but rather than make the reader choose fully what is going on, it is more like “think what you want, but this is probably the right answer.” Overall, this was an entertaining read though and it maintains ½, bringing the total for this volume to ½.

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