Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Was Dora Suarez: Poignant, Brutal Thriller

Books on cult fiction and many reviews warn about the late Derek Raymond's I Was Dora Suarez, an entry in his Factory series of police procedurals. They seek to alert readers to scenes and references not for the faint of heart nor weak of stomach.

The novel includes all of the shocking references that get spotlighted including the possibly mythical felching, but they're milder than reviews would lead you to believe, and they are there either in character or serve to represent the profane, brutal world in which the unnamed narrator, a police detective sergeant, and the unfortunate Dora Suarez reside.

Raymond strives to find beauty in darkness and decay and paints the backdrop in willfully extreme tones.

Narrator hero and victim
The narrator's tough, just back to police work after what amounts to a suspension, and is prone to violence. He's satisfied with his rank and has no desire for advancement, but the discovery of the book's brutal opening deaths sets him an investigation that will rattle him like no other.

In an almost third-person narrative, that opening describes the dual murder of Dora Suarez and her unfortunate landlady who is thrown through a massive clock.  

Soon the detective is uncovering layers to Dora's life, and a look into her diary makes him understand her soul even as he delves into those darkest corners to which she was exposed.

Deep fascination
His fascination with Dora and her freshly washed hair at the time of her discovery is deepened by his exploration of her thoughts and dreams. Dora is damaged, but her spirit is unquestionably human.

Discoveries drive obsession as the detective and a partner intensify their search for her murderer.

The book drags in a few passages, but those are easily surpassed, and the ending, as the detective closes in on the hideously monstrous culprit provide an intense payoff both on a genre entertainment level and emotionally.

I Was Dora Suarez may not be for those tender-hearted souls who can't take tough fiction, but for those who can face a dark tale with a heart and soul, it's an interesting excursion.

I understand other entries in the Factory series eschew procedural conventions in interesting ways, and so I'm looking forward to sampling more Raymond, as I continue a quest for reading that straddles the literary and genre universes.


Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds like something I'd definitely like. The contrast between the beautiful and the ugly has always fascinated me.

AvDB said...

My experience with thrillers is very limited. If something were to lure me back, it would be a dark tale such as this.

Lana Gramlich said...

Sounds really interesting. I'll have to see if we have it at the library.

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