A review by lauriereadslohf
Control Freak, by Christa Faust


I bought this book when it was first published way back in the early 90’s, back when I was reading a lot of Poppy Z. Brite and Caitlin Kiernan, when I was young and free, with money to burn and too damn busy with other stuff to read what I was buying apparently. At the time, the three author’s had a website together (possibly called Pandora-something? It’s gone now) which is how I learned of this book whose premise begged me to read it. For some reason, it got pushed to the back of my now triple stacked bookshelf (yeah, I’ve got issues, I know) and there it stayed until my dog wiped out most of my bottom shelf. Unearthed after all these years, I saw it glaring at me all shiny and new, still in its protective cover. Shameful, really, but I’m sure someone here will understand. So what did I do? Stuck it back on the shelf where it still sits. I’m listening to it now because I stumbled across the unabridged audiobook release.

A young woman named Eva is found murdered and sexually mutilated. Caitlin McCullough is a beautiful young mystery writer who is intrigued by the case when she learns the details from her police officer boyfriend Mike Kiernan. Caitlin plans to write a book about the case. After doing a bit of sleuthing she discovers Eva was well known to the (then) underground world of hacker’s and SM clubs (remember this was written in the 90’s). After interviewing a few of the dead girls’ friends she’s led to the SM club Eva frequented and delves head first into a world of pain, control and sex that awakens her to a whole new world of sensation.

Caitlin is immediately drawn to the darkness of the SM scenes in the dungeon and her snooping leads to her becoming part of the lifestyle (more like a superstar). She’s clearly cut out to be a dominatrix and takes to it with a natural confidence that surprises her. The feelings of power, admiration and lust are intoxicating. She is surrounded by beautiful, young submissive waifs begging to get their asses reddened while horny men are more than willing to pay her good money for the pleasure of simply watching her get her boots licked cleaned. But the bigger draw comes in the form of a beautiful man who may or may not be mad and who remains the biggest suspect in the murder investigation.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not good at the “guessing the murderer” game and I was left guessing for quite a while though the reveal isn’t any huge surprise. This book is more of a look into the life of a “normal” young woman who finds and willingly embraces the darker edges of her nature and once awakened she just can’t turn back. As Caitlin is drawn deeper and deeper into the SM world, her old life and relationship inevitably fall to the wayside.

The characters were interesting and well-drawn but be warned this book doesn’t flinch from the darkness within its characters and they often act in ways that don’t exactly make them likable. This is a book mostly about obsession, power and giving in to desire at a rather huge cost. The narrator does a fine job with most of the characters and I could clearly distinguish one from the other. The only notable exception was the portrayal of one of Caitlin’s hacker friends whose voice was like bloodied nails on a chalkboard and completely cringe inducing (and damn if I can remember his name), fortunately (for me) he wasn’t a large part of the novel so that’s a minor nit in an overall decent performance.

Control Freak is dark, dreary, and seedy and I couldn’t put it down. I'm glad I finally got around to reading it ;)