Review: Dead Girl Blues by David Sodergren

cover of Dead Girl Blues by David SodergrenDead Girl Blues by David Sodergren
Independently Published (March 2020)

275 pages; $9.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Janelle Janson

Dead Girl Blues is another knockout book from Scottish indie horror author David Sodergren. And let me say the cover artwork by Connor Leslie matches the story so perfectly. Its eye-catching yellow cover, with hints of retro-styled red, spoke to me on many levels and tickled my 1970s pulp horror-loving fancy…and then I opened the book. Once I started reading, I was overwhelmed by the story and further impressed.

Have you heard of the term Giallo? I certainly hadn’t. It’s a horror sub-genre that originated in Italy and started in horror cinema. Translated, Giallo means the color yellow, the featured color on cheap mystery paperbacks that were at one time all the rage in Italy. I am not sure how I haven’t heard this term before because it’s defined as a mashup of horror and thriller—my two favorite genres. The genre usually features the trope of exploitative sex and the troubled, trenchcoat-wearing detective, and relies heavily on red herrings, gruesome violence, and atmospheric writing.  

I can’t talk about a new David Sodergren novel without first singing my praises for his two previous works. I read Night Shoot and The Forgotten Island awhile back ,and color me impressed. Sodergren’s talent for seductive plot and highly addictive writing is unfailingly brilliant. His books draw you in and never let go. The Forgotten Island is an exhilarating creature feature mixed with an ever-so-promising beautiful island vacation that ends in murderous mayhem. His second publication, Night Shoot, is a fun, fantastic cinematic adventure that marries one of my favorite tropes, the “final girl,” with nostalgic horror fiction. A group of film students take their gig to an abandoned mansion—I mean, does it get any better than that?!

Now, back to Dead Girl Blues.

The main protagonist, Willow Zulawski, is a stripper who finds herself deep in the dangerous world of pornography, snuff films, and murder. One evening, while walking to meet up with a date, Willow encounters a woman who has been stabbed in an alley, calling for help. The grisly encounter is only the beginning of the sadistic mayhem. There is a healthy amount of disturbing, graphic content, especially violence against women. I mean, you caught the mention of snuff films in the book’s description, right? The Giallo genre is next-level odious because the violence targets women in the stories, so if this is particularly offensive to you, be forewarned.

 Filled to the brim with delectable mystery, noir, suspense, and some brutal, true-blue slasher horror, Dead Girl Blues is damn good. I cannot recommend any of Sodergren’s books enough, but this one might be my favorite. To put it clearly, you need to read all of his page-turning, scared-out-of-your-mind stories. Sodergren has published three perfectly executed horror novels in a row.

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