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Book: “Love in the Time of Serial Killers” by Alicia Thompson
Publishing Info: Jove Books, August 2022
Where Did I Get This Book: The library!
Book Description: Turns out that reading nothing but true crime isn’t exactly conducive to modern dating—and one woman is going to have to learn how to give love a chance when she’s used to suspecting the worst.
PhD candidate Phoebe Walsh has always been obsessed with true crime. She’s even analyzing the genre in her dissertation—if she can manage to finish writing it. It’s hard to find the time while she spends the summer in Florida, cleaning out her childhood home, dealing with her obnoxiously good-natured younger brother, and grappling with the complicated feelings of mourning a father she hadn’t had a relationship with for years.
It doesn’t help that she’s low-key convinced that her new neighbor, Sam Dennings, is a serial killer (he may dress business casual by day, but at night he’s clearly up to something). It’s not long before Phoebe realizes that Sam might be something much scarier—a genuinely nice guy who can pierce her armor to reach her vulnerable heart.
Review: Maybe this is going to be a year end tradition for me on the blog, in that I am once again reviewing a romance novel when that isn’t usually the genre I tackle around these parts. But like last December and “The Love Hypothesis”, I just had to talk about a romance that has a lot of aspects that speak to me! Let me count the ways.
- It’s a slow burn romance with a vague enemies to lovers beginning.
- Our main character is snarky and weird and oh so relatable to me.
- There is a VERY CLEAR CUT TRUE CRIME THEME.
In the words of Junji Ito’s “The Enigma of Amigara Fault”, “IT WAS MADE FOR ME!!”
“Love in the Time of Serial Killers” really felt like it was written with an awkward weirdo like me in mind, and it made for a breezy and fun read. I really loved the mix of forced proximity (as our protagonists Phoebe and Sam are new neighbors after she has moved into her recently deceased father’s home) and enemies to lovers (as Phoebe is instantly paranoid that Sam is a malicious predator because he offered her help without any invitation). Throw in the fact she’s getting her Ph.D with a focus on true crime as a genre and its impact on readers and creators alike and suddenly it finds a way to feel fresh. The dialog is fun and snappy, the characters are all enjoyable and easy to like, and the various obstacles that obviously have to get in the way of Phoebe and Sam are high stakes enough they feel weighty without feeling melodramatic and sappy. I really liked the banter between Phoebe and Sam, and I thought that the build up to their eventual romance was perfectly paced with the right kind of weird tension that makes the build up all the more delightful as we get to a steamy and sexy pay off.
But it was Phoebe’s characterization and character growth that really sold this book for me. Phoebe is written in such a way that I found her to be very engaging, endearing, and, in a lot of ways, SUPER relatable. Phoebe has a fixation on true crime as a genre, and her dissertation is on the genre itself and how people interact with it. She is also a bit anxious, has a distrustful and snarky disposition, and has a hard time being vulnerable because of past traumas and experiences related to her childhood and her parents super acrimonious divorce. I loved seeing her slowly learn to stop seeing everyone and everything through a true crime lens, and loved seeing her not only open up to Sam (whom I also really liked), but also to the younger brother she hasn’t seen much of since the divorce, and to an old friend whom she had a complicated falling out with.
But the other thing I really appreciated is that Thompson never really shames Phoebe’s interest in true crime or makes it into something so problematic she has to ‘learn a lesson’ about why her interest is bad. I think that with true crime being so ‘in’ right now (though honestly, true crime has ALWAYS been popular in American culture) there certainly is a lot to be said about consuming other people’s tragedies, but this can be done without making those interested seem like psychopaths in their own right, and Thompson does walk that line pretty well. Yes, Phoebe needs to relax a little bit, and yes, her interest in true crime is rooted in other issues in her life she hasn’t quite dealt with, but she’s never portrayed as bad or malicious for her fascination. And I really liked that angle (probably because I feel like Phoebe and I have a lot in common when it comes to hyperfocusing on true crime due to other baggage in our lives).
“Love in the Time of Serial Killers” is a frothy and fun romance with a little bit of edge. I wholly enjoyed it and if you’re looking for a fun cute read for the upcoming holidays, this might be a good choice!
Rating 8: Cute, quippy, and oh so relatable to my true crime interested self, “Love in the Time of Serial Killers” is a fun rom com for fans of a slow burn love story with quirky weirdos at the heart.
“Love in the Time of Serial Killers” is included on the Goodreads list “2022 Contemporary Romance Releases”.