The Beautiful Dead End review by Donato Mancini

Broken Pencil, Issue 19, Summer 2002
review by Donato Mancini

Be warned that whatever else this genre-bending book tries to be, the main theme is necrophilia, and the author tries to make necrophilia beautiful, or "horribly beautiful." That said, the slow-motion quality of the writing, and how well the story is edited, make the novel work. It's definitely a page-turner. Its heavy-handed realism feels synthetic, like a David Cronenberg movie. That's because the steady, deep gaze of Hutzulak's prose, and the way the narrative eye resembles an intrusive documentary camera, with the same violating intensity. At its most tasteless, it degenerates into a kind of slideshow of exacting diction: "He snapped the loaded clip into place, knocking it with his fist until it locked with a solid click. He pulled the bolt back and chambered a round." The author achieves accuracy at the expense of all linguistic panache. When the ideas and images are arresting, which they are often enough, the style fits the supernatural mystery-story well, and the scenes follow each other in just the right order, giving up exactly the right amount from each narrative thread. Keep in mind that that's exactly what big-budget thrillers have going for them, and Hutzulak's characterisations and scenarios aren't on the whole any better than in, say, The Sixth Sense. 

 — Copyright 2002 by Donato Mancini