Marked for Death. Brian J. Karem. Avon, ISBN-10: 0060524715 , 304 pages.
The novel ‘Marked for Death’ delivers a unique crime story based on confrontation between human dignity and morality, impact of drugs on human personality and search for happiness. This novel is an excellent literary piece which combines features of horror and crime stories, shocked scenes of murder and psychological transformations of the murderer.
This novel is an outstanding crime story based on detailed analysis of motives and events affecting a female murderer.
In reviewing this book, the judgment will be based on story conflict and characters development, intriguing plot structure and development of the theme crime and human evil. The author, Brian J. Karem, is an expert in the field of crimes and criminology. For a long time, he has worked as an investigative reporter and war correspondent. This story is based on real life events investigated by B.J. Karem.
Laren Sims (Elisa), the main character of the story, is raised up in a small town in Florida.
Since early childhood, she dreams about a big city and great opportunities. Karem gives the narrator and readers access to inward states that the characters may not themselves understand. Given this access, what is striking is the interest Karem takes in representing murderous states of mind and the complex relations among state of mind, act, and consequence. In representing these elements, Karem takes advantage of the novel’s power to enter into the minds of its characters, but she also attends to the limits that acts and consequences impose.
These limits are in part what turn the novel back to the necessity of an external act. Fear and dangerous atmosphere is evident through the very beginning of the story. Karem opens the novel with the following words: “Larry McNabney knew he was being murdered for close to the last twenty-four hours of his life, and as those hideous and horrendous final scenes played out, he also knew the torture of being unable to do anything about it” (Karem 2005, 5).
The plot structure is complex and does not allow the reader to comprehend all events and their significance at once. This very structure allows Karem to create a mystery and atmosphere of horror and fear appealing to emotions and mind of readers. Karem underlines that Laren has not been a violent woman raised in a friendly family, so the author leaves it to readers to decide the factors which change her personality and force her to become a violent murderer.
As a true crime novel, ‘Marked for Death’ highlights the boundaries between judgment of a specific act and judgment of character become, at best, more difficult to determine and more readily manipulated to contain behavior and to coerce those who will not conform. So not just a criminal state of mind but wickedness itself becomes a requisite of criminal guilt. Karem vividly portrays that temporal aspects and evil are more obviously constitutive of character, and the continuance through time of a character and a personal identity has itself a complex historical base.
Karem proposes a detailed psychological analysis of Laren Sims (Elisa McNabney), her lover Sarah Dutra and her husband Larry McNabney. This analysis helps readers to understand their life and its impact on the crime. Larry McNabney is a successful Texas attorney while Laren is a poor girl from a small town dreaming about wealth and money. Karem describes a happy life the marriage couple lasting for six years. But in September 2001, Larry disappears. This event becomes turning point of the novel forcing readers to recollect all events and facts of their family life.
The question remains fertile because the crime at once contests and reaffirms the limits of criminality. By deactivating Laren’s act, Keram tests the limits of liability. At the same time, though, he stabilizes those limits by making Laren’s intent fiercely active. Keram unveils that criminal law has long depended on distinctions between conduct and character; it has been and continues to be on its guard against questions of character, defensively declaring that those on trial are to be judged and punished not for who they are but for what they have done.
Moreover, the only acts to be scrutinized are those relevant to the crime for which the defendant is tried and not past bad acts. While this may stand as the criminal law’s official position, Karem follows his lead and exposes the strategies of the legal technologies that bring characters into the courtroom, not only as evidence of the crime but as an object of judgment and punishment in itself.
Terrible crime themes shocked the reader and force to analyze Laren personality and her psychological state. Karem unveils that she brutally murders her husband because of the guilty mind. As an expert in this field, Karem skillfully details and facts concerning her life and personal development. The most terrifying fact is that the murder of Larry McNabney is well-planned by his wife: “Elisa, a beautiful woman almost eighteen years his junior, had slowly and proficiently poisoned him” (Karem 2005, 5). Elisa remains violent, at one point losing her temper and coming close to murdering the character who threatens to expose him, so the relations between character and conduct are less troubling than the synopsis of the case might suggest.
Elisa’s conduct tells readers what they need to know about her, including what little interiority she must have. Karem reflects almost immediately the change in her personality and mind. Before Elisa kills her husband, readers have seen her as an ideal wife and friend. Karem’s reluctance to call Elisa a murderer suggests that the judgment readers are to make against her has less to do with a criminal act than with who she is: she is a criminal—an evil person.
Deleted are most of the passages from the book that present Elisa deep in thought, considering the ways in which she might dispose of her husband and revenge. By reproducing the scenes as drama, Karem submerges the tensions the novel plays out. Most of the dialogue between the spouses remains intact (as one might expect in a dramatic reading), but the emphasis in the performance text is on Elisa’s action and less on an exchange between Larry and Elisa.
The most terrifying is that the violent murder is committed because of ‘pure greed’ and desire to obtain money. Two key moments of exchange are deleted from the text. The murder scene itself proceeds with few changes. Then, perhaps most significantly, Karem omits many of the sections that show the sudden paradox that Elisa presents to readers. After she has murdered her husband, traders get a few of the passages in which they find her in distress or shocked. Karem’s audience would be anxious for punishment after so gruesome murder, and to introduce the complexities of Elisa after the murder would have changed the relation between her and a criminal act.
Karem vividly portrays that the crime and nightmarish situations are a result of psychological distress and the feeling of guilt. For Elisa, the natural desire on the woman’s part introduces the theme of alienation, which is to figure largely in the work. In general, her ‘career’ has the effect of alienating her from love and understanding of others. To some extent, this woman can be described as a self-centered personality which leads her to terrible and violent crime.
Bloody scenes and detailed descriptions of the crime shock readers. Karem describes that Elisa keeps the body of her husband in the freezer for many months and than buried him in the garden. These scenes have a great emotional impact on readers and create an atmosphere of horror and terror. Elisa lacks moral values and her overflowing artificial goodness may well be found rather tiresome. The author underlines that every person has its own truth and very often through these lens people see their reality. Her cruelty is nothing more than the burden of guilt lightened by exercise and contemplation of nature.
This is a true crime story based on in-depth analysis of the characters (Elisa and Sarah), events and scenes of crime. Karem uses vivid language means and descriptions which appeal to emotions of readers and create an atmosphere of horror and real terror. Karem uses emotional extremity describing motives and dual identity of Elisa. The psychology does not, perhaps, make much sense if readers think of her at the beginning of story. Low self-esteem and probably egoism result in the situation she has little control.
This book is interesting and easy to read because the spiritual experience, emotions and psychological states are strong, and mirrored in the text. This crime story can be characterized as a “tragedy” full of sorrow, emotional degradation, dullness and inanity of human existence. Scenes of crime depict that people have difference sense of reality and different life experience which lead some of them to specific understanding and interpretation of reality which they unable to control. I would recommend this book to everyone interested in human psychology and investigation process.
Karem is an expert in crime narration portraying social and economic causes of crimes. His keenest perception, and the one that told most heavily for his fiction, is the universal quality of the patterns he is tracing, his greatest discovery that there is nothing new about the upper and low classes. This irony of regret lies deep in the individual contour of phrase and assortment of words; if the felicity of its expression is no doubt not to be explained, it is still, it seems to me, the key to the consistency of the peculiar Karem’s tone. ‘The cold-blooded seduction and murder’ (Karem 2005, back cover) recounts real life events that add psychological significance and tension to the whole work.
Karem, B.J. (2005). Marked for Death. Avon.
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True Crime Essay. (2017, Mar 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/true-crime-essay