Thriller is not normally a genre I read-just not my preference. But since connecting with Carrie Rubin over at The Write Transition, I’ve had the pleasure of reading two that I am happy to pass on to other interested readers.
Eating Bull is the story of overweight teenager Jeremy. An aggressive nurse, Sue, suggests a lawsuit aimed at the food industry for its part of the obesity epidemic. Jeremy and his mom, Connie, eventually agree.
On a parallel track is a serial killer targeting the obese in their area. As the celebrity status of the lawsuit collides with the killer’s ultimate mission someone is going down. A lot of people actually.
While tension and blood aren’t where I get my kicks and grins while reading, I love a good process book. And this one had a lot. (It had good blood and guts though if you’re interested.) Rubin includes a bit of the legal/media process; readers watch the mental process of the three main characters develop, unravel, and climax; and, when everything was coming together I had to keep asking, “How is this going to work? How will Darwin succeed here? What is going to happen to overcome this obstacle?” Process keeps me going. But when it was all nearly-said and almost-done the heartbeat was up (and not just because I was reading at the gym), and I kept myself from skimming to get to the end faster and find out how it resolved. A good sign for a thriller, right?
As I was reading, likely because I have read bits and pieces of Rubin’s writing journey on her blog, my curiosity extended to the writing process. The curiosity that pulled me into the world of Jeremy, Sue, and Darwin was underpinned by questions relating to plot choices, character descriptions, and details. Of course, I had to try to guess the killer so every detail became a “Hmm, is that a red herring? Maybe this person? What about this clue?” Rubin’s decision to tell the story from three different perspectives is a lot like french-braiding hair (how’s that for an obscure analogy). The three stands have to hold on their own in order to work, they gradually accumulate their own substance but their individual contributions are necessary for the strength of the whole. It also allows for a lot of pressures and perspectives to be included. Eating Bull is a good french-braid.
Aside from the thriller content and opportunities for process engagement, I appreciated Rubin’s inclusion of several different relationships with food. We all have to eat, but how we eat and what we eat and why we eat varies from person to person. It can be something we use for control, self-deprivation, discipline, comfort, energy, nourishment, and much more. By not only emphasizing Jeremy’s struggle but including other variations of food relationships, Rubin opens the conversation wider. And, reading a thriller about a serial (how hard is it not to type ‘cereal’) killer and a controversial lawsuit is about the best way I can think of to start the conversation. A lot of books bring us to consider our lives within the context of the greater world, but this facet is inescapable. Everyone makes decisions about food. Daily. How many of those decisions are being manipulated by access, availability, chemical additives, and who knows what else? Never thought about it before? Read Eating Bull. It’ll get you started.
This is a recommended book as a gift for the thriller lover in your midst, a book club that appreciates a book that will push the conversation beyond the content in the pages, and for your own enjoyment. I recommend reading it while working out at the gym (a good New Year’s Resolution book then, too) – reading on the elliptical machine prompted two of my best workouts in a long time, I have never run so fast.
But, seriously, if you’re going to give a book to someone, shouldn’t you get them two? If one is good, two is awesome. And Rubin’s first book, The Seneca Scourge, is awesome. Get your flu shot first though or you’ll regret it…..muahahahhaha. Too much? Okay, I’ll leave the thriller writing to the experts.