In her new novel, Vancouver author Jackie Bateman – who lived in Edinburgh and London before relocating to the West Coast – brings a unique and unsettling perspective to the otherwise hoary trope of the relationship between a serial killer and his victim.
Savour picks up three years after the events of Bateman’s debut novel, Nondescript Rambunctious. Lizzy is working at a fruit stall in a market in London and living in a grungy bedsit. It’s not much of a life, but it’s better than living on the streets, as she had been. She’s drug-free, has friends, and has found a supportive community.
Unbeknownst to Lizzy, she also has an admirer, having been followed to London from the small Scottish town where she grew up by Oliver, the man who murdered her mother in the first book. Oliver watches Lizzy from an apartment across the street from the market, noting her movements and running a series of private torture events that are attended by a small group of like-minded psychopaths.
Both Lizzy and Oliver are complex characters, driven by their internal processes and the events of the past. Oliver isn’t a stereotypical serial killer: his interest in Lizzy is complicated and, to him, confusing. He is both hunter and guardian angel, protecting Lizzy from violent elements even as he plans his own violence against her. The narrative development, driven by character rather than expected machinations of the plot, is a genuine pleasure, especially when Oliver finds himself opposed to one of his oldest fellow travellers, a woman named Helen who has her eye on Lizzy for herself. Will the killer turn on his closest ally to protect the vulnerable teenager?
Savour contains enough information about the events of Nondescript Rambunctious to stand on its own, but reading the first novel will bring greater depth to the experience and well prepare the reader for the final volume of the series, which can’t come soon enough.