Written by: Matthew J. Barbour
Sadie the Sadist, by Zane Sachs, was reviewed by Myra Gabor on April 23, 2014. It received five stars and was hailed as an instant classic. The novel took the concept of the mystery/cookbook popular to middle-aged women and combined it with the sensibilities of spaltterpunk horror. Grocery store employee, Sadie was the perfect serial killer and her recipes were to die for.
Now, Sachs has done it again with the pre-kill novella: Sadie’s Guide to Catching Killers. Readers will learn that it wasn’t shucking corn that made Sadie bat-shit-crazy. Instead, it was a childhood of abuse and murder. Follow Sadie as she comes to terms with life, love, and transsexuals while growing up in the suburbs of Long Island, New York.
Gone are the much loved recipes. The reader is now treated to handy guides on how to tell when someone is lying and ten useful household poisons. Good stuff to know when you are dealing with the rough and tumble lifestyle Sadie is accustomed to.
Sachs’s writing is brilliant. The essence of splatterpunk, even more than the sex and violence, is the defiance of convention. Sachs did this in Sadie the Sadist by taking a formula used in women suspense novels and turning it on its head. Now, with Sadie’s Guide to Catching Killers, she destroys the coming of age novel.
Rather than suffering through the trials and tribulations of childhood, Sadie revels in the chaos. She is by no means a victim of circumstance, but rather an active participant in the debauchery which surrounds her. Sadie gets her kicks by plotting murder and playing with the mutilated remains of household pets. Most of the problems which face Sadie are the result of her own poor choices.
Sachs manages to infuse horror and humor into the novella. In this way, she might be compared with Monica O’Rourke. However, the writing styles are somewhat disparate. Sachs feels different and refreshing within the genre. It is unclear if she even knows what splatterpunk or extreme horror even is. The book is marketed as black comedy -which while certainly true- is not an entirely accurate portrayal of the work and most of the author’s other works, under her real name Suzanne Tyrpak, are women’s erotica/suspense oriented literature. Do not let this dissuade you from giving Sachs a read.
Sadie’s Guide to Catching Killers is a true gem. The only downside is that the novella is painfully short. It leaves the reader hungering for more (or perhaps that is the result of not having recipes). Hopefully it will not be long until there is another full length novel.