The Horror Honeys: Sexual Nightmares - The Venus Complex

Sexual Nightmares - The Venus Complex

A Hardcover Honey Book Review

The Venus Complex - Barbie Wilde

The Horror Honeys love you Barbie <3
Barbie Wilde may be best known to the horror community as one of the Cenobites from Clive Barker's "Hellbound: Hellraiser II" movie, but she is an author too and damned talented in her own right.  Her 2012 novel "The Venus Complex" features cover blurbs comparing it to American Psycho, Hannibal, and Dexter and the comparisons are, for the most part, earned.

The story focuses on college Art History professor Michael Friday, who, barely three pages in, becomes angry with his unfaithful wife and deliberately crashes their car, unbuckling her seconds before impact and killing her instantly.  He feels no regret for this act, after all, Angie has a personality that "made Attila the Hun look like SpongeBob SquarePants".  Four weeks after the accident, he returns home from a hospital stay, a little physically worse for the wear, and with no need to work now that his late wife's money belongs to him.  With plenty of time on his hands and no outlet for his growing sexual frustrations, he begins "improving" himself with stringent workouts, but is unable to stop having disturbingly violent/sex dreams.  His perpetual masturbation doesn't seem able to curb his growing urges.  Other than working out and jerking off, Michael fills his days with a steady diet of junk TV shows, 24-hour news channels, and the Internet, where he soon finds himself chasing down serial killer stories and taking note of how they got caught.  In keeping with his education, he also finds himself browsing through old art magazines and taking special notice of a specific kind of painting, ones that specifically feature Venus, the Goddess of Love.

Growing antsy at home one day, Michael visits his old campus, where he spots and starts obsessing about a petite blonde teacher he sees walking across campus.  He follows her, and learns that her name is Elene Sheppard, and department is Psychology.  Upon further "research" (a term in this case which actually equates more to stalking), Michael learns that Elene is a Doctor of Forensic Psychology, with a particular emphasis in serial killers and that she's even published a book on the subject.  Michael is ecstatic when he reads the book and recognizes himself in her descriptions of " have these feelings of superiority and no release for them - no talent to channel them - must be supremely disconcerting".

Michael immediately decides to travel to nearby NYC and pick up a prostitute for "relief" sex.  Predictably, once he acquires the services of a nameless prostitute, he is unable to stop with just sex and strangles her during the act.  Having learned his lesson from his research, he is able to leave his kill site clean and unnoticed (shades here of Dexter) and return home to gloat and hatch a plan to do it again as soon as possible.  His objective seems to be two-fold, first to become the type of serial killer who doesn't get caught, and second to attract the attention of Elene.  

The book proceeds through his plan, targeting a specific type of woman, picking them up, having sex with them and killing them, then decorating their bodies with obscure alchemy symbols in the hopes that he will be called in (because of his art history knowledge) to consult with Elene (who frequently works with the police herself on such cases).  Michael refers to his work as The Project and notes "I want my art to shock and disturb".  Mission accomplished -  for this reader at least.  His path inevitably crosses with Elene's and her former boyfriend and current police detective Frank Bianchi.  

As always, I don't want to spoil anything for you so I'll stop my synopsis here and note that the book wrapped up in a what I found to be a satisfying and original conclusion.  I will also say that I liked this book about a million times more than American Psycho, which I found unnecessary and gratuitous.  That being said, if you like your fictional sex and violence together, The Venus Complex does not disappoint.  And if you're rooting for Michael Friday, you're not somebody I would ever want to meet.

Hardcover Honey Verdict: Four creepy bookworms out of Five - plus some crazy sexual nightmares.