By: Herman Franck
Publisher: Trafford Publishing
Publication Date: January 2011
Reviewed by: Bill Alberts
Review Date: January 28, 2011
If the criminal justice system let a serial rapist go, one who had raped a loved one, what would you do? Would you seek your own justice? That’s just the question Ben Nightingale must answer in the new novel Ultimate Revenge.
Ben is an investigative reporter happily engaged to beautiful Erica Lazarus, an author with one published book to her credit. All seems well in the world until one night when the pair goes out to a restaurant for dinner. At one point, Erica goes to the ladies room and is followed by a clean-shaven, well-dressed man in his early twenties. This man, a serial rapist, jabs Erica in the neck with a syringe full of drugs to make her compliant. He then brutally rapes the young woman and quickly leaves the scene through a back exit.
While Erica is left in a comatose state from the drug cocktail the rapist gave her, Ben and the police frantically search for the man. Ben, with his strong investigative skills, is the one who tracks down the criminal. Arrested, jailed, tried, and convicted, the rapist, Henry Emerson III, is sentenced to 12 years in prison. Once the trial is over and Emerson is safely ensconced in jail, Ben can try to get his life back in order, which includes caring for Erica.
Emerson settles into prison life, spending almost two years incarcerated and attending therapy sessions on a regular basis. Meanwhile, the public defender’s office files “a notice of appeal of the judgment of conviction against Henry.” (pg. 156) Unfortunately, they are successful and Henry is soon released. Now the rapist is free while the rape victim is in a mental asylum, lying in a bed, day after day. What would you do if you were Ben? Would you seek revenge?
As the title suggests, the rapist in this story becomes an involuntary transsexual, the transformation taking place at the hands of Ben. Unspeakable things are done to Henry, just has he had done earlier to Erica. But the story takes a surprising turn as time passes. Ben gets his revenge but “The thing about revenge is it turns you into the very monster that you’re seeking revenge against.” (pg. 259)
Ultimate Revenge is a book with a unique twist to the “seeking revenge” storyline. The author, an attorney, knows the legal system well as much of the story, which takes place in and around the court system, reads true. With chapter titles such as “Hearing on Motion to Exclude Illegally Obtained Evidence” and “Appellant’s Opening Brief,” it is clear that you will get an education on how the courts work. Fortunately, the court scenes don’t get bogged down with legalese talk but they do add a dose of authenticity to the book.
A book dealing with rape and its aftermath is apt to contain numerous violent and sexual descriptions and Ultimate Revenge is no exception. The rape scene is graphic as are several other events dealing with Henry’s conversion to a “shemale” and his subsequent interactions with Ben. This book is not for the faint of heart. Some may also find what happens to Henry not just bizarre, but stretching feasibility a bit.
Overall, the book is a well written, fast read. There are however, sections, particularly while Henry is in jail, that get bogged down in extraneous detail. We read about Henry’s therapy sessions, learn about other prisoners’ sexual problems, read the questionnaire and personal profile Henry fills out (in detail) and even read of case studies of sexual predators. Fortunately, the action picks up again when Henry is released from prison.
Quill says: A totally unique and yes, bizarre, twist on seeking revenge on a criminal who has wronged a loved one.