Forget competing for Miss America, the real prize is to become Scream Queen at Standard Springs’ annual parade honoring their local serial killer who arrives during the festivities to slaughter another member of the upstanding community. Back in 1996, the dark humor was appreciated and hilarious. Today, it rings a little too real for comfort. In the intervening years we’ve seen bad behavior win all sorts of popularity contests, from out of control idiot actors, to reality ‘stars’ supposedly representing New Jersey. My grandmother had another name for these types, ‘white trash.’ And she lived down the shore.
And ever since O.J., murderers or those accused, are afforded the attention of a king. People hang onto every grisly detail provided by desperate 24 hour ‘news’ people who must find distractions to keep the populace from focusing on unemployment and war. And ratings, because we all love nothing more than to watch 24 hour ‘news’ people distracting us from unemployment and war with the Casey whomevers demonic actions. Let’s face it–we love love love true crime. From a distance.
But in Minnesota, the residents of Standard Springs do more than watch TV and live vicariously through Nancy Grace. No, they honor their unknown crazy person with an entire series of events. A bunch of floats, fake blood in rivulets down the town’s streets, and inflatable deadly weapons dangling from lamp posts make up what is fondly called, Parade of Fear. Tourists come from all over to witness these festivities, and the topper, a lovely young teen contestant will be crowned Scream Queen.
Unfortunately our protagonist, Debbie Morning, seems to have been born without fear. Oh she tries, and tries to find something that will prod her into the most horrifying scream ever uttered, but nothing she does brings on the vapors. And it’s her last shot at the title–she’ll be to old to be ‘slaughtered’ next year.
This problem disturbs her deeply–I mean, everyone wants to fit in, right? While Debbie is digging for her distress button, her father and the town’s committee are perplexed that so far, no killer has showed up–everyone is still alive. And they all sheepishly agree–they don’t want the unknown killer caught–their town’s economy depends on continued senseless violence.
Serial Killer Days is a biting commentary on how we see violence in today’s world, and how willing as a society we are to enjoy the trappings of horrific deeds. Mr Prill doesn’t preach, or lecture–he makes his points with laugh out loud humor, with rollicking scenes and situations that verge on reality. And that’s disturbing!
When I first came across the book, I was gobsmacked! Not a whodunit, not a suspense novel, not a conventional anything. Fresh, original, yet familiar in that we can see ourselves in the characters actions and obsessions with violence. And oh so very very funny. I went a bit ape over the book and did something I didn’t usually do–reccomended it to every customer that crossed my path. Since the book cannot be categorized, I concluded it fit everyone’s reading list! And out of the over a hundred copies I sold, only one person found it not completely to their liking, but not emphatically so.
So, I’m recommending it again and again and again. My timing seems to be right considering the side show trial the country was gawking at every day. And, just recently I read that a movie maker had committed to bring the book to the screen. Whether that will ever happen, who knows. Books are constantly being optioned, and then never heard from again. And if it does come to a theatre near you, it’s likely the title may be the only thing in common with the book. They rewrite and rewrite until the author would be hard put to find his characters and actions within the pages.
But if we’re lucky, a faithful adaptation will come to the silver screen–or scream!