The Mask of Sanity, by Jacob Appel, is a psychological thriller about living beneath the cracks of society, all the while wearing a dissonant smile within a sea of corpses.
On accident, Jeremy Balint found out that his wife was having an affair with his colleague. After leaving the corpse of a dead dog he ran over in said colleague’s garden, as well as some sort of pondering, he decides to kill his former friend, not only because of the affair, but because he could. He begins to plan every detail of the murder, from becoming embroiled an affair himself, to marking his murderous career as “The Emerald Choker”, Jeremy shows that the deepest parts of the human psyche can be disturbing, and that the real monsters are hidden behind the masks of friends and family.
I have to admire Jeremy for his thoroughness in covering up his crime (aside from allowing DNA evidence to linger on a victim). There was also no hesitation on his part, and comes up with justifications that make sense to him and only him. To be honest, I don’t recognize him as a sociopath; he does have some regard for his wife and children, however slim the moments were. And he does show a tiny bit of remorse, as fleeting as is. It makes the ending all the more haunting.
We all try to believe there is some good in us, that there is always a reasonable for the way things are. For some people however, that just isn’t the case. They only subscribe to ideas of goodness and inner worth because they are expected to. Society weaves a complex web that is hard to get rid of, and with that comes ethics that everyone is expected to follow. Killers such as Jack the Ripper and Ted Bundy have managed to successfully follow these rules, all the while carrying out their murderous activities.
Overall, I would give this book a rating of a 4.5 out of 5 stars. Jeremy is intriguing as a character, not just because of his antisocial tendencies, but also because I got to see just how difficult it is to weave to separate yourself from normalcy. The ending was eerie, because it meant that even if he does achieve bliss, some part of him knows it won’t last forever. I loved it, and would recommend this book to those who enjoy The Scarlet Letter and Crime and Punishment.
Here is a link to the book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XP339T1/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1