Steve Savile

Darktales Publications / 202 pages / (April 1, 2000)

ISBN: 0967202949

Personally, I look forward to every new release by Steve Savile, so I was eager to tuck into Secret Life of Colors. And it didn’t disappoint. Like all of Savile’s fiction though, you have to actually make a little effort; the story is in there, but it is not floating on the surface. This is a book where you pay attention, or you get lost.

Gabriel Rush, Savile’s protagonist, is a shattered man. Once a dedicated cop and family man, he is now little more than a walking corpse. His occupation is private investigation, mainly of the sleazy variety, complete with photographs. One photo is about to give him purpose, and draw him back into the company of cops.

When an impulse photo reveals on odd pattern on her cheek, Rush moves fast to warn the woman. The mark in the print is the signature mutilation of the Trinity Killer, the serial murderer who has the New York area in fear. And the public doesn’t even have all the more stomach churning details; imagine the panic if they knew the entire story.

Rush is already living with that terror, and it’s his very life and sanity that may be the price of solving the case.

Savile takes a bit of Rush’s profession to tell this tense story. Chapters appear in brief flashes of too-bright light; the novel spins out in quick snapshots of blasted lives. Every captured moment of time freezes the images, like the entries in a sick photo album.

The pictures preserve in color the black-and-white misery of the world around Rush. In a grey atmosphere, the reader is forced to see the hues in everyday and extraordinary people, places, and things. You can’t read Secret Life of Colors in a faded state of mind; Savile wants you to experience more. And experience you will every tint and shade you never noticed before. Some you never wanted to notice.

Know before you start the novel, red is the overriding wash of color in Secret Life of Colors. For a variety of reasons. If you are thinking of blood, you’ve nailed down one of those reasons. There is extremely graphic violence, detailed descriptions of injuries, and disturbing images. In other words, this is not a book for the young or weak-at-heart (or stomach). The part that religion plays in this tale may well anger some people, but then, some folks look for things to be angry about…

But, I have confidence in you. You can take it; you aren’t the easily offended kind, or you wouldn’t be looking for books here. Instead, you will enjoy the pleasure of Savile’s prose and the amazing breadth of his ideas.

However you read it, you’re never going to forget Secret Life of Colors.