The Garden is part one of a three part thriller. The story features Kelvin Kettle, a serial killer who returns to the town of Montclair Massachusetts to seek revenge against the townsfolk. He changed his name and appearance to blend in with the community, and then systematically kills them one by one. Local law enforcement is no match for this cunning murderer as he wreaks havoc on this small town.
“Pushing daises” is often referred to people dead and buried, but in the mind of a serial killer they all become flowers in a garden as told in the new noirnovel by M. Everett Baylor titled, The Garden.
Projecting snippets of thoughts from a tormented mind, twisted by child abuse and sexual violence, the formation of a serial killer is rather logically developed. Starting as a young lad, the runt of two twin boys, torn away from his twin brother because of physical deformities and the need for medical procedures beyond the affordability of his biological parents, his life is left to the fate of foster parents. Continuously being bullied in school, abusively disciplined by his father, and sexually tortured by those he trusts, his life is carelessly plucked from his family and placed into a system of bureaucratic ambivalence; all too often allowing for the innocent cast-offs of children to become victims of violence and sexual abuse. The system perpetuates a haven for dysfunctional adults to have their way with young children whose only wish is to seek a home and safety.
M. Everett Baylor interleaves a rather terse dialogue throughout The Garden perpetuating an impression of normalcy juxtaposed against the hidden agenda of “adding flowers to the garden,” which means victims to their graves. This frightening dichotomy of personalities within his character is hauntingly eerie as the victims become trapped like an insect in a predator’s grasp. With revenge as a motive, the townspeople are faced with a killer among them, hiding in plain sight. In many ways this storyline parallels some of the serial killing profiles such as Jeffrey Dahmer or that of David Berkowitz, better known as the “Son of Sam.”
I found The Garden to have some disturbing scenes, by design of course, but making it in my opinion not suitable for young adult reading due to gruesome violence, child abuse and the underlying theme of vengeance. A somewhat more mature audience, looking for simplicity in a storyline with insightful murderous circumstances would, however, find this very entertaining. The Garden moves swiftly, having for the most part predictable dialogue but does pack a punch with a clever twist that I must say was very artfully foreshadowed. The Garden will definitely leave an impression on all readers. M. Everett Baylor has written The Garden as the premier book of his series titled, The Montclair Murders. Just knowing there is a sequel tells you one thing – the devil is still out there! It teaches all readers, so articulately quoted by the author, “Death comes with a smile, a dozen roses, and hungry for a meal.”