Alex is an actress on a popular American TV family drama, Koops Kitchen. But the reality behind the sickly sweet serial is less than wholesome. Feeling alienated from her fellow cast members, and secretly in love with her co-star, Alex loses herself in reading slash fiction about the show – in particular, seeking stories where she can vicariously experience a sexual relationship with the perfect Lissa. But a new fan has started posting more than risque stories, in which the two women have sex after finding another of the show’s characters dead. And then the actors killed in the story start to die in real life…. Alex is convinced a serial killer is at work, and that it must be someone closely connected to the show. But which one of her fellow cast members or crew could it be? She turns detective to find out…
This was a little outside my comfort zone initially, as I’m not a reader of slash fiction on the internet, but this doesn’t really matter. At its heart it is a serial killer whodunnit, and although it is not for the easily offended, it is great fun. The characters are writ large, but are entertaining for that; if the cops are rather unbelievable, as a TV in-joke they work perfectly. Alex’s snooping reveals the bitter, greedy and fake side of the celebrity industry, just as it reveals that she, a clever woman, cannot read people at all. She’s an interesting heroine – brave, reckless, and often clueless – as her own issues cloud her perception. I loved the coarse banter between her and Perry, as their animosity grows into something more meaningful. Raw and cutting, it’s a relationship fresh out of a Chuck Palahniuk novel.
The most enjoyable aspect of the novel is as metafiction – it’s fiction about fiction about fiction – constructing layers of fictional reality which shows the reader the lies that each is built on. It’s an interesting concept. At first I was a little disorientated, as Alex’s private world and the internet slash fiction mesh with each other, but quickly realised that that’s the point – in a world where we are surrounded and saturated with stories, who’s to say which one is more real than the other?
Definitely a whodunnit for the internet age, this was originally written as a series on the author’s blog, but is now available as a collected edition. For more information see Evan’s website, and you can download Slash to Kindle via Amazon.
With thanks to Evan for the review copy.