The cover of David Sodergren’s DEAD GIRL BLUES tickled my pulp horror aesthetic obsession perfectly. Its eye-catching yellow cover spoke to me on many levels and tickled my 70’s pulp horror nostalgia...but then I opened the book. Once I started reading, I was overwhelmed and even further impressed.
Sodergren’s protagonist, Willow Zulawski, has found herself deep in the dangerous world of snuff films and murder. As she is walking to meet up with a date, a woman is found stabbed in an alley, calling for help, and by happenstance, Willow is the one who answers. The grisly encounter is only the beginning of what sadistic mayhem comes next.
I read NIGHT SHOOT awhile back and, color me impressed, Sodergren’s talent for seductive plot and highly addictive writing is brilliant. His books draw you in and never let go. Willow is a stripper and the victims are employed in the sex profession, all deserving of our empathy and attention. Unlike NIGHT SHOOT, there is disturbing graphic content. I mean, you caught the mention of snuff films up top, right?! So be forewarned.
DEAD GIRL BLUES is filled to the brim with delectable mystery, noir, and a mix of true blue slasher horror. SERIOUSLY, it’s so damn good. I cannot recommend any of Sodergren’s books enough, but this one might be my favorite. I plowed through this page-turner and I’m already ready for the next one! ★★★★★
Dead Girl Blues
By David Sodergren
After reading the fantastic books The Forbidden Island and Night Shoot from David Sodergren, I knew that I was a fan. Both of those books are wonderful, and I gave them both five stars. When I saw the announcement for Dead Girl Blues, I immediately pre-ordered, expectations high. After I ordered the book, I read the summary. That’s right; I read the summary AFTER I ordered it. I saw that Dead Girl Blues was a tribute to the Giallo style movies. Not knowing what Giallo was, I googled, and basically, Giallo is an Italian term describing a “gruesome murder mystery.” Learning is FUN!
Dead Girl Blues starts with a murder. A girl stumbles from an alleyway and dies in the arms of Willow Zulowski. The story follows Willow as she tries to find the murderer. Finding no help with the police, she begins to follow clues that lead her deep into a world where she doesn’t belong. Sodergren steps up his game regarding the violence in this book. His previous books did not shy away from graphic violence, but this one is something else. What Willow discovers in this book is deeply disturbing on multiple levels, and there were moments in this book that made me feel very uncomfortable. If you have a trigger, it’s probably present in this book. Violence of all kinds permeate this book; there’s sexual violence, exploitation, torture, murder, more torture, and more murder. However, the throughline of all of that is a story full of mystery and suspense that keeps you deeply invested. I’m not going to give too many details, but I can say that it takes guts to write a book like this and nail it in the way Sodergren does. Not only does he give us an extremely violent book that holds nothing back with strong realistic characters, but he provides this story with the ending it deserves. I loved this book. If David Sodergren wrote the menu at Applebees, I would buy it and keep it as a prized possession.
Matt is a middle school math teacher. He's originally from Kentucky but currently lives in Arkansas with his beautiful wife and 2-year-old son. In addition to reading dark fiction, he also enjoys board games and Disney World.
David Sodergren has his finger on the pulse of horror fiction. If I didn’t know better I’d say he has his finger on my pulse specifically, knowing what buttons to push, checking off everything that makes me tick as a reader. He crafts tales that feel just familiar enough to bait you in, nice and easy before yanking you in unexpected directions.
Tapping that vein with another intensely addictive, fully satisfying narrative is Dead Girl Blues. Sodergren’s third novel released, and my favorite of his thus far, concerning an exotic dancer who in a wrong-place-wrong-time moment is thrust headfirst into a murder mystery, snared by the trap of humanity’s unfathomable depth of violence. Squeee! Just typing that gives me the goose flesh and makes me want to take this book for another spin.
The bi-line will tell you (ha, the author, the author will tell you) that Dead Girl Blues is a noir mystery/ slasher hybrid taking queues from old Giallo thrillers. I’d tell you that it is a gnarly-as-fuck bloodletting, an intense spectacle, nay, spiral of malice and depravity. I’d tell you that Dead Girl Blues is delicious. A guilty pleasure although I don’t feel the least bit guilty about loving it. And I don’t think you will either.
Unless of course you have something against interesting, colorful characters, solid dialogue, mayhem... nightmares.
I am all in for anything and everything that David has coming down the pipeline. I crave it, not as a reviewer, but as a fan. His books speak to me, and in all honesty, that kind of personal connection doesn’t happen nearly enough these days.
Dead Girl Blues by David Sodergren, entertainment value: a strong 5/ 5.
Zakk Madness is a 40 something horror nerd and yo-yo enthusiast. Not a critic, but a fan of horror fiction. Former reviewer for The Mouths of Madness Podcastshow, he currently reviews as The Eyes of Madness. When this chaotic life is keeping him from reading he is spending what free time he has with his wife and their three sons.