The Girl in 6E by A.R. Torres (4 out of 5)
I feel the fool. I thought this was a stand-alone book, but it seems, according to the River, that this is the second book. Well, bravo, Ms. Torres, you got me hooked. Halloween night was probably not the best night to read this, but when you are trying to sleep and end up tossing, turning, and sneezing like a banshee half the night, why not say “Fuck it, I give up. I’ll read a while”. Next thing you know, it’s 2:30am. I have to be up at 6am to get ready for work and the like, so…I’m one tired person this morning. Do not start reading this before bed, dear friend, if you are not of the easily scared variety, because you may have trouble sleeping. I didn’t. In fact, after I finished this, I had a good four hours of sleep, which is not bad for an insomniac. Anyhow, this book was great. If you like Dexter or Lauren Beukes, well, you really will like this one. Especially when you have a quasi-heroine who isn’t supposed to be viewed as a heroine. Confused? Read on.
Deanna has been locked in her apartment for 3 years, without contact of any sort with the outside world. The only communication she has is to tell Jeremy, the regular UPS guy, to leave her package and sign for her, and her drug-addicted neighbor Simon, who in exchange for free pills every month, locks her into her apartment at night. Why does he lock her into her apartment at night? Because that’s when the demons are strongest, and if she’s able to leave, she may kill. Again. Deanna does cybersex for a living. She’s known as top cybersex personality “Jessica Riley”, a 19-year old college student. Her clientele is varied, and some of them – professional shrinks– administer advice to her for free. Deanna has demons all right. When she was 17 her mother murdered her family and then killed herself. Deanna is sent away prior to her mother doing this, so she’s spared, but in the process, the demons quietly build up walls, and Deanna suffers from the urge to murder people on sight. So she takes on a career of being a “cam girl” and keeps herself sequestered within her four walls to keep from killing people. Obviously, that means she has a lot of time to think and a lot of time to mourn her lost family, not having friends, and not being able to build a relationship with a man, due to the fact that she never leaves and no one ever enters Apt 6E. Deanna ends up having a bad dream one day, she moans in her sleep, Jeremy is dropping a package off and thinks she’s in danger and barges into her apartment (it’s daytime and she never locks the door, oddly enough.). She wakes up in a fright, she’s fine, and she’s…well..naked. One thing leads to another and she dives for Jeremy’s box cutters (PS- NOT an euphemism for something else, although the way I structured the sentence, it certainly looks that way) when they are struggling. He pins her (again, NOT an euphemism) in self-defense and she kisses him to distract him. Well, she enjoys it a lot more than she should and that throws another monkey wrench into the plot- the budding romance (albeit, a very strange arrangement) between the two. Normally, I hate this sort of thing, but in the context of the plot, it helps things with Deanna’s psychosis along to the point that she’s humanized for the reader. What else helps? Well, Deanna’s got a real perv puppy on her hands- a man named Ralph who asks her to dress in a little girl’s clothing and answer only to “Annie”. The calls/cam sessions get more periodic, and she begins to have the sinking feeling that this guy is a pedophile and is acting out with her, until he can gets his pervy paws on whomever this child named “Annie” is. Deanna picks up the phone and has one of her IT wizards hack into his IP address and she gets the entire history after she confides her fears to the IT wiz. Sure enough, within a day, an Amber Alert is issued for Annie, a little girl from Georgia, who just happens to live very close to where Ralph’s records indicate he lives. Deanna’s investigation reveals that Ralph has a trailer, in the middle of a field in Georgia, that he is renting from a Craigslist ad. She gets Jeremy to lend her his car (in return for a talk and another kiss. Gag!), she has her weapons, and she takes off to do Redneck Recon and get Annie out of there. Deanna’s childhood memories lost to her family’s murder/suicide and a newly found sense of fairness toward little kids keep her adrenalized until she gets there. She finds Annie, tied up with rope and terrified. She gets Annie out of the trailer, and leaves her on a porch of a house far from the trailer with instructions to call 911. She then heads back to get Ralph and finish him off. What follows is an epic fight, and an ending that will surely leave the way open to another installment of Deanna’s story, if Torres takes it in that direction. I hope she does.
This is another book where I learned a lot more than I thought I would. I have no doubt that Torres did her homework in researching the cyber sex/ cam girl industry. That was pretty fascinating. The revelation that these ladies have Amazon wish lists that their clientele can purchase stuff from (for them) and have sent to them- was eye opening and startling (at least to someone with my old fashioned mindset). The different categories of fetishists… the psychological recriminations and reasons for some of those…all newfound knowledge. I learned a lot about something I normally would not think about, nor wander into in any kaleidoscope of my everyday life. I was fascinated by the backstory of Deanna’s family and how that continued to reverberate through her current life. Deanna is written, at least in regard to the murder/suicide of her family, in almost an unsympathetic light at first. You can’t help but like the character, for she’s straight up with everyone about everything. She’s also incredibly intelligent and realistic about her career, her future, and her present. I liked her tremendously; her moxie and spirit are not broken, despite the shit she’s been through. She keeps fighting; even the demons that threaten to overtake her, not just in dreams, but in everyday temptation. Her attraction to Jeremy humanizes her even more, but as I said, the minute she becomes aware that Ralph, her client with the requests for her to dress like a little girl, is up to no good, she goes after him, guns blazing. I loved that. Torres could have taken the character, the plot, and the eventual end in a whole different direction that would have pissed the reader off (like Gone Girl and Night Film, for example), but she stayed true to Deanna’s story and character, and wrote it splendidly. A great read, a page-turner, and I hope they leave it and don’t turn it into a movie, but if they were to, Mikaela Hoover would make a great Deanna. Just sayin’. Also just sayin’–read it!