Review: “The Schwarzschild Radius,” Gustavo Florentin

Pros: A ton of tension; high stakes
Cons: “Torture porn”
Rating: 2 out of 5

Gustavo Florentin’s The Schwarzschild Radius is a high-stakes thriller in which a young woman, Rachel, tries to save the lives of both her adopted sister (Olivia) and her sister’s recently-discovered twin (Achara). Someone has been killing young women in particularly brutal fashion, and Rachel starts working as a stripper in an attempt to find Olivia. Apparently Olivia had been doing sex work in order to make enough money to bring Achara to the United States where she would be safe. Another sex worker brings Rachel along to her high-paying gigs, and while Sonia sleeps with the men, Rachel scours their houses and electronics for evidence to help her find Olivia. McKenna, who’s working Olivia’s disappearance for the police, occasionally finds anonymous dumps of information–sent to him by Rachel, of course. He’s a little ways behind her in his investigation. There’s a fair amount of predictable material in here; the obvious priest is very quickly found to be the obvious pedophile, for example.

“The Webmaster” finds and kidnaps young women, then auctions off methods of harm and finally method of death to perverted people who will pay thousands of dollars for the privilege. When he starts stalking Rachel things do get appropriately tense and taut. However, I found the detailed methods of torture went over the line into ‘torture porn’ for my taste. I like horror in general, and am okay with a certain level of graphic detail, but this felt like it was graphic detail for its own sake instead of adding to the story.

I could never reconcile myself with Rachel’s methods and investigation. It all seemed too tenuous a thread to pull to justify some of the situations Rachel put herself in. A lot of the separate threads in the book never came together for me; add that to the torture porn and I can’t bring myself to recommend this book.

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