Genre Horror Publisher Publish America Year Published 2004 Review Posted on 10/16/2007 Reviewer Rating
9 out of 10
Absolution: The Ted Roth Story, by Edmund Hulton
Reviewed by Mike Swope
If you've read this book, why not
Other reviewers have written that you won't want to put down this book.
To some degree, I must agree with them. Though I first thought this book
was a biography about a serial killer I had never heard about (the
review list wasn't clear about the genre, or it didn't matter because
the book sounded interesting, take your pick), I quickly questioned the
biography because it was too internalized, too detailed, bordering on
too gruesome for most publishers. Despite its flaws, which are a matter
of opinion anyway, Absolution: The Ted Roth Story is a good, violent,
gory well-written read which borders on fun.
Ted seems to be your average boy, but he can't take rejection well. For
some reason, his closest friends and girlfriends can't help but
personally betray him. He kills his first victim, his best friend
Charlie, with a knife at ten years old, and frames their mutual friend
Johnny for the crime. His second and third victims, Frankie Bates and
Jamie Carver, he kills when he is a senior in high school, for cheating
on him together. He kills his fourth victim, Professor Risner, when he
is a freshman in college after only a few weeks of sharp personal
attacks and criticisms (no friendship or love in this relationship).
Ted's fifth victim was Father Harold, whom he killed because he raped
Kayley years before, when she was a nun (the incident caused her to
leave the nunnery). Some time later, Ted and Kayley marry and raise a
family. More than twenty uneventful, corpse-free years later, after
getting a bit drunk, Ted confesses these murders to a past business
associate who just happens to be connected to a powerful-but-private
political group calling themselves the Assembly, whose members include
the Vice President, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the Secretary of
Defense, the Attorney General, the directors of the FBI and CIA, and
others, which leads to blackmail...
It is an engrossing story, if far-fetched. It sucks readers in at the
start, a twisted coming-of-age story gone murderously wrong, then takes
them through Ted's evolution from a personal, selfish murderer into a
murderer who can kill without the childish pain or rage necessary to
precipitate his first three murders. Incidentally, as Ted evolves, he
also becomes a wealthy and noteworthy businessman and consultant who
moves in larger social circles. This seems to be a social commentary
about the skills and detachment necessary to achieve the kind of success
enjoyed by only a select few in this country. Since Ted's business is
based on IBM and the computer industry, a few such successful
businessmen come to mind, an interesting comparison to and juxtaposition
with Ted Roth. It should be clear, however, that the ever convoluted and
loosely knitted plot can, with a good measure of suspended disbelief,
also be fun to witness. This is part of Absolution's charm. Readers
don't exactly know what will happen next, so they keep turning the pages.
Absolution is hard to put down, too, for its murder scenes. I would
compare the early scenes to train wrecks or any other horrible but
horribly fascinating scene. No one can look way. The first two murder
scenes are also particularly sexually graphic, and fill almost exactly
half the pages in the book, which seems appropriate for the emotionally
charged coming-of-age theme, particularly of these early scenes. Hulton
has written them with care and clarity that readers truly see them
through Ted's eyes. The later murder scenes are shorter and less
emotionally charged, but they are no less well written. Instead, they
demonstrate Ted's evolution as a psychopath. Altogether these murder
scenes in Absolution are graphic, imaginative, detailed and well-paced.
Readers need not fill in any details; Mr. Hulton provides them all.
Perfectly. Shockingly so for new readers.
Absolution's greatest strength, however, is its powerful writing. No
book is any good without powerful writing. Some books are acclaimed for
it alone. Despite the loose plot development and the unnecessary frame
(the book pretends to be an audio recording made by Ted during his last
hours of life, a heavy-handed technique which only serves to annoy
readers as it interrupts the real story), Absolution is well written.
Sprinkled with a few typos or missing words as one might expect from a
digital publisher, Absolution nevertheless hits all the right notes at
the right times for the right duration to make the individual scenes
memorable and ring like a fine concerto. For the writing alone, readers
should pick up a copy of Absolution: The Ted Roth Story, and discover an
author worth watching.