The Cutting Edge

Rated 4.20/5 based on 6 reviews
My name is Skye Summers. I’m a hairstylist and I can’t stop fantasizing about killing my clients. My occasional fantasies have turned into chronic daydreams. They’re bloody and vivid, like watching a slice-and-dice movie on IMAX. I should be troubled by this growing desire to use my surgically sharpened shears for more than a haircut. Instead, I wonder how I can get away with it.

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Words: 82,370
Language: English
ISBN: 9781452377506
About Darcia Helle

I write because the characters trespassing through my mind leave me no alternative.

My books are available in trade paperback on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as my website - www.QuietFuryBooks.com.

I hope you'll join me in my fictional world. The characters await you.

Also by This Author

Reviews

Review by: Geoffrey David West on Dec. 07, 2012 :
The Cutting Edge brings us into the world of hairdresser Skye, a kindly but harassed animal lover who finds that an ever increasing frustration with dealing with customers is driving her to ever-more murderous thoughts: she wields scissors that would love to cut carotid arteries and slice away ears. Cleverly, Darcia Helle leads us to think initially that Skye's homicidal fantasies about her dreadful clients - who variously behave selfishly, abuse her good nature and even have hygiene issues - is going to lead her to actually commit murder.

However, the Mass Avenger is the one who's really killing women in the small provincial town. And the reader is made aware of his ever-increasing interest in Skye that she has no knowledge of: thus creating an almost like a Hitchcockian build-up of tension that escalates higher and higher until it almost reaches breaking point. We see Skye from the monster's point of view, and she's totally unaware of it.

One murder after another is interspersed with lighter moments, with Skye's nice husband and lovable parents re-homing dogs and seeing the best in people. The book culminates in a thrilling climax, which I won't reveal - read the book and find out!

The interest in the book for me was the contrast of Skye's nice normal agreeable family life with that of the vicious lonely sociopath who preys on women: a heroine you can like and a murderer you can hate. Also I enjoyed the insight into a hairdresser's world, where seemingly balanced, likeable people can behave with such appalling self regard and tactlessness without even realising that their selfishness and cruel words can cause such harm.

You can expect plenty of thrills, lots of warmth and humour and some very scary moments, with an interplay of viewpoints that works well, ratcheting up the tension right up to the end.

You'll like Sky and her family and you'll love her dogs, and you'll enjoy her company until the very end: a really good read. Wish I hadn't read it so I could read it all over again.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Marty Beaudet on Dec. 04, 2011 :
I'll admit, I chose to read this book because of an online acquaintance with the author, along with the many rave reviews of her work from other authors in my network. Although I write thrillers myself, I'm not big on gore, guts, and cruelty. So a plot with a serial killer wouldn't normally attract me. [End disclaimer]

I have to say I was pleased with the first half of the book, where protagonist Skye, a hair stylist with murderous thoughts about her overly-demanding clientele, gave voice to some very astute observations about the selfishness that seems rampant in our me-me-me society. What made her rants so enjoyable was the humor with which she infused them. It was easy to relate to her frustrations, and fun to laugh at her characterizations.

A problem, perhaps, is that so much of the book is filled with these humorous characterizations (Skye describes at least 50 of her clients through the first 24 of 36 chapters), that it feels at times more like a stand-up routine than a crime thriller. Now, for me, that wasn't all bad—it spared me having to close my eyes too often (I'll admit to skipping a page or two during the killer's activities, which are meticulously described), but it detracted from the suspense that should have been building as the story interspersed the killer's machinations with Skye's day job and personal life.

But the plot overall was entertaining. I knew that that the two story threads would eventually intersect, but I didn't know just how, and by the time they did I was anxious to find out. The resolution was satisfying; I'm glad I read the book.

The ease with which the author paints her characters made them colorful, relatable, and humorous in their all-too-human foibles. It also made it a joy to read such tight, evocative prose. Knowing that the author was once a stylist leads me to conclude that these portraits of strangle-worthy fussbudgets were drawn from actual clients. After all, what author dreams up fifty or more incidental characters for a novel!

I may still have to skip the most grisly pages, but I'll be reading more of Darcia Helle's books.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Douglas Bricker on Nov. 28, 2011 :
Overall I quite enjoyed this book although I was expecting some sort of major twist at the end where Skye actually goes through with some of her murderous thoughts. The climax at the end was a little disappointing and entirely too quick for my tastes. The humor presented by Skye (written in first person) was written in a way that made you remember all the times you may have thought some crazy thoughts about customers, people you work with, or your boss. I honestly could not stop reading this even though I was reading it on my tiny iPhone screen. The story engages from the beginning and really doesn't let up until the slightly flaccid ending where all the loose ends get tied up neatly in a little bow. I will definitely be checking out additional books by Helle.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Douglas Bricker on Nov. 28, 2011 : (no rating)
Overall I quite enjoyed this book although I was expecting some sort of major twist at the end where Skye actually goes through with some of her murderous thoughts. The climax at the end was a little disappointing and entirely too quick for my tastes. The humor presented by Skye (written in first person) was written in a way that made you remember all the times you may have thought some crazy thoughts about customers, people you work with, or your boss. I honestly could not stop reading this even though I was reading it on my tiny iPhone screen. The story engages from the beginning and really doesn't let up until the slightly flaccid ending where all the loose ends get tied up neatly in a little bow. I will definitely be checking out additional books by Helle.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: GraceKrispy on Oct. 21, 2010 :
"I fantasize about my scissors slipping and slicing into her jugular vein."

Anyone who’s ever been in a job that involved personal service will relate to some of Skye Summers’ thoughts about her hairdressing clients. While annoying clients are in her chair, Skye finds herself fantasizing about killing them in the most grotesque ways. From the teenage boy who wants to use a knife on her to the woman who shows up at the crack of dawn and accuses Skye of being late, she's got quite the rude set of clients and she knows she'd be happier if she could just kill them off, one by one. Skye's obsession with her gruesome killing fantasies grows by the day, until even she is no longer disturbed by them. Meanwhile, there really is a serial killer out there, a control freak on a mission to teach women they really don't hold all the control. As he picks up speed, Skye finds herself alternately fascinated and disgusted by this serial killer, never knowing that their lives are soon to cross and neither will ever be the same again.

In "The Cutting Edge," Darcia Helle has created some of the most absurd and aggravating hairdressing clients you can imagine. The care she takes with some of the details makes the characters richer and easier to picture, and some of them are laugh-out-loud funny with their ridiculous antics. The author uses the serial killer, "The Mass Avenger," as a live-action backdrop to mirror some of Skye's own thoughts until the time comes for the two stories to meet. It's an intriguing and unique concept, with a neat little twist at the end.

"The Cutting Edge" is a quick read, and initially had a fun, quirky sense to it. As I read further, however, I began feeling like the story was going nowhere. The descriptions of the characters began feeling more like journal entries, designed to share all the wacky characters the author had created, and less like a vehicle to move the plot along to the climax. I felt like we meandered along for a time in the middle before the story really picked up again at the end. Adding to the journal feel of the book, the story is written in the first person, present tense, with occasional third person interludes from the serial killer's perspective. With the feeling I was reading someone else's journal entries, I found it difficult to fully engage in the story.

Although very predictable (it was immediately obvious to me who the killer was, although I think the author attempted to lead us off track by giving us several options), it was definitely a fun read, and an enjoyable way to spend some time. I can see where this book wants to be, and I think a little more finishing will help move this story from a fun, quirky read to a bonafide thriller with a dark, comedic edge.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Joel Kirkpatrick on Sep. 24, 2010 :
It is not a pun to call this book sharp. It is as perfect a description as I am able make. But, there are other things to say about Darcia Helle’s ‘The Cutting Edge’ and every one of them good. This is a delicious read; this is an inviting read; there are moments that bring you to knowing laughter. Skye is a perfect narrator. We have all owned her thoughts. She speaks to us, as we often speak to ourselves, “…it’s normal to have these thoughts…right?”

Every moment of Ms. Helle’s tale is a delight. To have you giggling at her imagined crimes against her customers, is a wicked thing to make you do, but I promise you will submit willingly. If she happens to find a chance to make those daydreams come true…you will understand, and forgive her. They had it coming. Right?
(reviewed the day of purchase)

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