By Insanity of Reason

by John R. Little; Lisa Morton

“If I was tried for murder, I’d just demand a jury of my peers. Every parent understands wanting to kill the miserable kids once in a while.”

If you first experience Lisa Morton through the outstanding anthology Dark Delicacies, you’ll see the book’s opening story by heavyweight Ray Bradbury comparatively beaten to a pulp by the second story, written by Lisa. She’s also written the fantastic novella Hell Manor and the Stoker nominated novel Malediction. Lisa has mastered the writing of horror as it relates to the physical world.

John R. Little has the amazing collection Little Things, and later the somehow even better retrospective collection, Little by Little, as well as other award winners. John has mastered the writing of horror as it relates to empathy and emotion.

A collaboration between two outstanding authors, By Insanity of Reason is both psychological and real-world horror, playing with time in a way that evoked the film Memento, though it doesn’t work exactly backward. Told from an alternating first-person perspective, by story’s end there may be questions.

Crystal, a mother of two children who is on trial for their murders along with the murder of her husband Richard, can barely remember events in her past due to the combination of head trauma and medication. She’s fuzzy on who she killed, if she killed, why she killed and how.

Richard, Crystal’s husband, the father and other narrator of the tale, had hired a private investigator to look into his wife’s activities to find out if she’d been cheating on him the way he had been on her all these years. Through these two perspectives the present is informed by the slowly revealed past.

There is an element missing here but it may be so by necessity for this novella. If you have two main characters, one who is quickly known to be a bad guy and another who is charged with being bad and in a constant haze, it’s difficult to connect with either.

An intense read, but different in the more exacting requirements it puts upon the reader. It’s not all laid out for us to enjoy normally, it’s an excellent puzzler where we’re given pieces and asked to put them together.

4- stars


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