The Cutting Edge
My name is Skye Summers. I’m a hairstylist and I can’t stop fantasizing about killing my clients. Not all of them, of course. I only want to kill the ones who irritate me, which, if I’m being honest, is most of them. My occasional fantasies have turned into chronic daydreams. They’re bloody and vivid, like watching a slice-and-dice movie on IMAX. I also want to kill my husband’s ex-girlfriend. She’s not a client but she tops my list. Eighteen years ago, she gave birth to his daughter and she has tormented him ever since. I should be troubled by this growing desire to use my surgically sharpened shears for more than a haircut. Instead, I wonder how I can get away with it.
Gems: The Cutting Edge explores the darker side of human nature through the daily trials of Skye Summers and the mind of a serial killer. Outwardly, Skye is probably the least likely person to harbor murderous thoughts. Raised on a commune by hippie parents, a vegetarian and animal lover, she is the last person most would think could stab a person in the ear or beat them with a blow dryer. However, Helle proves that every person has the capacity to harbor murderous fantasies, but what she ultimately reveals, is a fantasy is just a fantasy. It is an outlet to release stress and when faced with the reality, most will never act. I think this is the key point to this tale. To define healthy from the unhealthy, and to examine where the line truly gets draw by our conscious and moral compass. As the old saying goes, ‘It’s one thing to think it, but quite another to do it.’
The story is told through interactions with clients, family and also gives an alternating perspective from the ‘killers’ POV. At first, the number of names and details were overwhelming, but this is exactly how it is suppose to be. It represents just how much information on a daily basis a worker has to absorb. It also works to enhance the experience of daily life ‘stressors.’ I thought this was well done and worked to push the building tension. I felt myself relating more and more to Skye, sympathizing and wishing that I too, didn’t have to go to the salon the next day!
Lastly, and this plays to theme, I found an interesting dimension in the study of women in this story. Although it is about a serial killer, I discovered a unique combination and what I would call a good topic for analysis regarding how women perceive, and are perceived tied to both sexuality and the idea of mythology. The killer perceives various women, but he is also an artist that favors mythology. Each female character in the story (traits, habits, job ect.) projects a familiar female stereotype. When I use the term ‘stereotype,’ I do not mean it negatively, because in this case, the stereotype is important to impress the idea of perception. How people judge each other, and in this story, it is pivotal to how the killer chooses his victims.
Flaws: So much work went into carefully constructing the final moments, that I think it deserved to be slowed down. After the climax, the reader is dropped. Instead of ‘seeing’ what is going on, there is a quick summary of what happened after the event. The summary was disappointing and felt like when a guy rolls over and falls asleep after sex. I wanted to kick the author and shout, ‘Hey, I’m not satisfied with this!’ It was rushed and had me saying, ‘what?’ this is too neat and happily ever after for this type of tale. However, I did love the last line, and a good last line is hard to write!