Thursday, August 4, 2011


 by Jennifer Hillier
New York, Gallery Books, 2011
367 pages     Fiction

When one gazes at the lovely face of author, Jennifer Hillier, on the back flap of the book, Creep, it is hard to believe that such perverse characters could come from her pen. But indeed, this first-time author has delivered a memorable thriller with enough plot twists to keep even avid readers of thrillers happy.

The plot hinges around a psychology professor named Sheila, her graduate assistant Ethan, and her fiancé Morris. Sheila is having an affair with Ethan, but she has issues that extend beyond the affair. She is a recovering sex addict, a condition she has hidden from her fiancé. This however, is not her biggest problem. Ethan, with his murderous psychoses, is her biggest problem. The plot is fast paced and lurid, and at the conclusion has one more, rather unexpected twist. In an interview with Hillier, she suggests: “I've always been fascinated by worst-case scenarios. What if you cheated on your boyfriend? That's bad, obviously. But what if you cheated on your boyfriend with Hannibal Lecter? That's about as bad - and scary - as it gets.” This, of course, is the main premise of Creep.

Other reviewers relate the plot to Radiohead’s song, Creep, with its lyrics:
I don't care if it hurts
I want to have control
I want a perfect body
I want a perfect soul
I want you to notice when I'm not around
You're so fucking special
I wish I was special
But I'm a creep
I'm a weirdo
What the hell I'm doing here?
I don't belong here
Of course, I have a huge learning curve when it comes to all things pop culture, so I had to find a video of Radiohead singing on You Tube. I was surprised that the lyrics were ugly but the music was kind of melodic and easy to listen to. Go figure!

One reviewer mentions that Creep “delivers on its main good, which is for the reader to gulp the book down in a sitting, maybe two.” That is most definitely true, and as you read quickly, you read through some of the plot devices that upon closer inspection are a bit opportune.

The characters are not pleasant people to know. It is hard to understand how Sheila, with her obvious problems, could have gotten as far in her career as she has. Morris, the fiancé, is a bit too nice. He certainly comes across as the “good guy” and may be too naïve and trusting for Sheila. I wondered how Morris and Sheila got this far along in their relationship—the wedding is scheduled for the next week—for there to be such a lack of understanding between the two. Ethan’s motivation is convenient and the reason behind his endless supply of money defies logic. He reminded me of the character Martin Vanger who lives on the island in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Steig Larson, the one with the killing room in his basement. (By the way, I am a big fan of the Steig Larson books. I have a link to my reviews at the end of this blog posting.) Ethan seems way too young to have what he has and to have accomplished what he has accomplished (if accomplished is the appropriate term.) That being said, the whole plot does hang together and the action keeps the reader engaged.

I am not a huge fan of thrillers, but sometimes just sitting down for a few hours of pure escapism is just what I need. For that reason, I really enjoyed Creep. I received it from the publisher and participated in a blog tour to publicize the book.

 Jennifer Hillier’s website and blog:
A YouTube Video of Creep by Radiohead:

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