Diaries of a Serial Killer
by Sheng Sun

"There is too much going on in my mind now that I wouldn’t find the darkness, the stillness, or the quietness enjoyable enough to stop writing down what my head wants to tell."

Sebastian kills women in Stockholm, Sweden, and draws pencil sketches of his victims to immortalize them after death. Tormented and haunted by his “mentally unstable” mother, Sebastian selectively kills women that resemble her. But life as a serial killer is troublesome for Sebastian who, like a bumbling adolescent, is embarrassed by his furtive impulses. He knows the wrongness of it and the complexities of his existence. Each day he grapples with his desire to kill as “a disease” that feeds his morbid requisite to “breathe in peace.” Wrestling with this quandary, he resorts to writing in his diary as a source of “therapy to analyze and solve problems.” He eventually seeks help from Margareta, a psychiatrist, and together they uncover the darkness that shrouds Sebastian’s life.

It’s hard to clearly define Sun’s weighty tale that delves, with excruciating detail, into the life and dark, twisted mind of a serial killer. Written as a diary, nothing is off limits in the account—from Sebastian’s eating habits and making money to his dating and wooing women and the reluctant dismemberment of his victims. Shifting between 2012 and 1990, it is ten-year-old Sebastian’s youth with his brother, Gudmund, and the abuse of his mother that make the most compelling parts of the narrative. Thankfully, Sun avoids the gratuitous violence and gore that so often seeps into such tales. Here, the author is more interested in exploring the psyche of a troubled man at war with the duality of his nature and the human desire for love. Readers may recall the popular Dexter series where the story similarly explores the humanity of a lonely killer. Though the connection to Sebastian is thin, one understands his vulnerability and emotions behind the mask he wears. Devoted readers will stick with Sun in the long haul to see how his unconventional story unravels.

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