Home > contemporary, Genre, thriller > Book Review: The Craigslist Murders by Brenda Cullerton

Book Review: The Craigslist Murders by Brenda Cullerton

Woman holding bloody item behind back.Summary:
Charlotte works as an interior designer to the wealthiest of the wealthy in NYC.  She thus has a window into their world and attends their parties, but is not actually a part of it.  The wealthy women annoy the crap out of Charlotte as they remind her entirely too much of her cruel, social ladder climbing mother, yet she simultaneously needs the income to stay afloat in notoriously expensive NYC.  One day when attempting to purchase a designer item cheap off of craigslist, she finds the solution to her pent-up rage.  Periodic murders of the wealthy elite women via responding to craigslist ads.

I view Charlotte as the female and decidedly less insane version of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho.  Both characters are a part of the wealthy, elite world that they simultaneously hate.  Both obviously have antisocial personality disorder.  Both murder people to deal with it.  The similarities end there, though, as Charlotte is decidedly less far gone than Patrick so there are no chapters of non-sensical rants.  Also this book is far less violent.  Charlotte murders by whapping women in the back of the head with a fire poker.  Her murders are about killing the women, not torturing them.

Honestly, this book reads as delicious fantasy to anyone who has ever lived in a city and bumped elbows with the craziness that is the world of the 1% (the wealthy elite).  Charlotte’s rage is our rage, and she deals with it in a way no civilized person would, but as Charlotte herself says when discussing the news of a murdered wealthy woman:

She’d been killed by her own personal assistant, news that Charlotte believed had come as a terrible shock to everyone in the city except the thousands of other personal assistants who dreamed, daily, of doing the same thing. (location 1101)

Yes, exactly.  This book rages against the privileged in a way most of us can only dream of doing.  And it works.

Charlotte is more than a murderer, though.  She’s a well-rounded character.  The reasons behind her murders and state of mental health are gradually revealed in a skilled manner throughout the book.  First we know Charlotte as a frustrated worker.  Then we see her murder.  Then we gradually start to see the real Charlotte beneath the facade.  A woman who was a little girl whose spirit was broken by her mother.  No one in her world, not even her therapist, offers her any real help, so Charlotte deals with her issues the only way she knows how.  It’s an excellent commentary on why quality mental health care and loving communities are so necessary.

The one issue I had with the book itself is the ending.  I won’t spoil it, but basically I’m not sure exactly why Cullerton went there with this narrative.  I can’t help but wonder if she’s planning a sequel.  I sort of wish she would write one to address some lingering questions I have, but perhaps that’s her point.  Perhaps she chose that ending to make the reader continue to think about the situation even after finishing the book.  If so, then it definitely worked.

I also find the cover infuriating, because the weapon the woman is holding looks nothing like the weapon used in the book, and that sort of thing that is mentioned repeatedly in the story shouldn’t be messed up on the cover.  Obviously that’s not the author’s fault, though.

Overall this contemporary fiction with a twist is a delightful read.  If American Psycho intrigued you but the graphic violence and sex turned you off, definitely give this book a read.  It features similar themes with less violence and more well-rounded characters.

4 out of 5 stars

Source:  Amazon

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  1. August 10, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    This sounds like quite the interesting book… heh. On the cover though, the murder looks like a pixelized mouse pointer doesn’t it? So if she is finding the women to murder online… ? Maybe?

    • August 11, 2011 at 9:09 am

      *looks at cover* Mayyybe? The new cover for the new edition has a bloody mouse (um computer mouse) on it, so that’s a possibility.

    • August 16, 2011 at 8:02 am

      Oh my gosh I finally see it now. It’s the pointer on the computer screen, no the mouse you hold!

      • August 16, 2011 at 8:07 am

        Yeah! That is what I was thinking of 😉

      • August 16, 2011 at 8:33 am

        I was confused because you don’t hold the pointer in your hand, lol. Sometimes my mind is a weee bit too literal. 😉

  2. August 12, 2011 at 2:38 am

    It was the excessive violence and sex that put me off American Psycho, but I was still intrigued by it so this might be the book for me instead. And I think it will be interesting to see it from a female perspective as well.

    • August 12, 2011 at 10:14 am

      I actually thought of you when I finished this one, Jessica, because I remember you saying that about American Psycho.

  3. August 12, 2011 at 8:02 am

    Hey Wolf: Many thanks for the v thoughtful review. And Amy is right. The “weapon” hidden behind her back is, indeed, a mouse cursor/pointer.

    • August 12, 2011 at 10:14 am

      Thanks for stopping by, Brenda! I’m glad for the confirmation on the cover….it confused me from the beginning, lol. But wait, I’ve gotta know, will there be a sequel? ^_^

  4. August 15, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    NOT! Re sequel, Wolf. I hope to never again feel as enraged as I did, writing those first sixty pages. I’m thinking instead of a travel book. The working title? Eat, Pray, Shoot Me. But tell me, did you love Gilbert’s memoir? I didn’t read it but I loathed the movie. Anyway, enough. Please keep reading/reviewing.

    • August 16, 2011 at 8:04 am

      Haha, aw, well, I’ll just have to ponder Charlotte’s future for myself then.

      I actually didn’t read Gilbert’s memoir. I have this thing where when something is hugely popular it instantly makes me not want to read it or watch it. I did see the first like 20 minutes of the movie when I was at the gym though with no sound or subtitles. I couldn’t figure out who the baby belonged to.

      If you write an ironic/snide mid-life memoir, I will become your biggest fan, hah!

  5. August 18, 2011 at 11:49 am

    HAH!!! The perfect way to watch Eat, Pray…At the gym with NO sound! And forgive me here…But I did write a memoir and it’s pretty funny. Well, dark, too. It’s called The Nearly Departed–Or My Family&Other Foreigners. Maybe give it a try (after Gilbert, of course.)

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