Serial killers seem to be all around us, if you watch TV news or popular crime dramas. So, 15-year-old John Wayne Cleaver, the protagonist of Orem writer Dan Well’s debut novel I Am Not a Serial Killer, might be understood for claiming he felt a certain amount of peer pressure. If growing up in a mortuary and helping his mother clean up dead bodies weren’t enough, his parents burdened him with multiple murderer John Wayne Gacy as a namesake.
But there’s something to be said for introspection, as well as looking outside your own head at the world around you. When a death at the local laundromat engages his curiosity, he starts to think about the real nature of evil. That’s something all too rare in current obsessions with dark doings. It’s this attempt to reconcile the emotional life of John that raises this fiction a level above the all-too-familiar slasher read.