Serial killers tend to be a solitary lot, jealously guarding their terrible secrets. When Povey’s witty protagonist barely escapes annihilation by one of these monsters, he considers himself fortunate and never expects to deal with such grim circumstances again. Au contraire.
Apparently, someone has a photograph of the deed, putting the protagonist in jeopardy: an over-zealous FBI agent who wants our would-be victim to help in “taking out” the Serial Killers Club one by one. In their hubris, the club members have taken the names of old film stars and has-been celebrities: Richard Burton, Tony Curtis, Myrna Loy, Betty Grable, Burt Lancaster, James Mason, Chuck Norris, Cher - the list goes on.
These killers have the audacity to advertise for new club members, so against his better judgment but admittedly curious, the protagonist takes the name Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and sets out to join the Serial Killers Club. Meeting for dinner regularly at Grillers, a steakhouse where their antics and braggadocio go unnoticed by the deaf waitress who takes their orders, the self-proclaimed “skillers” share their deadly secrets, stories of murderous encounters and grisly exploits.
The FBI agent shadowing his every move, Dougie is just settling in to his new identity when club members start disappearing. Everyone assumes they have tired of the club until someone suggests a more sinister motive: perhaps they are being murdered. Suddenly, paranoia is the order of the day, each killer looking with suspicion on the others.
It’s hard to know who’s killing who, but Dougie is certainly at the center of the action agitating the other members of the club, the agent pushing him to stir up trouble and bring about the demise of the club as soon as possible. In this campy romp through ritual murder and the freaks who collect bodies like trophies, one hand never knows what, or who, the other hand is doing.
No one can touch Jeff Lindsay’s suave Dexter, driven to rid the world of evil-doers, although Dougie is a quick study, if vertically challenged, outsmarting them all and getting a taste for blood in the bargain. These serial killers may be caricatures, but in their own clumsy way, they almost take the sting out of a really ugly avocation.