He Count’s Their Tears

5 StarsIn this gripping psychological thriller, author Mary Ann D’Alto tells the story of a man who looks perfect on the outside but is pure evil on the inside. Aaron Stein is an incredibly successful fertility specialist, and using his unique skill set of medical knowledge and his easy access to insecure and frightened women, he is able to serially psychologically manipulate and physically harm. But his sin doesn’t come without a price: we first meet Stein while he literally stands on the edge of suicide, prompted by his guilt and shame. When Aaron’s latest victimization takes an unexpected turn, will his sweet cousin Constance be able to get him through? Or will his crimes catch up to him?

Personally, I had a very hard time putting this down. I started out thinking I’d just a read a little before bed, and before I knew it, it was four a.m. and I was finished. The only thing I wasn’t crazy about was the lack of complexity in Aaron’s Stein’s character: the clean-cut, successful psychopath is such a trope at this point that Aaron’s movements at times were a little predictable. Things that were maybe supposed to shock, like his callous responses to the pleading of his victims, his incredible success as a doctor and external perfection, and his internal turmoil over whether or not he’s actually evil, have all been done in Patrick Bateman, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, and tons of other “perfect psychopath” roles. But while this irked me a little, it may be an attractive quality for other people. After all, tropes are tropes because they resonate with readers on some level.

What redeemed this book from a potentially predictable route was the quality of the writing and the uniqueness of Mary Ann D’Alto’s voice. Typically, literature that features the “perfect psychopath”—The Silence of the Lambs, American Psycho, etc.—tends to have the same very succinct, bare, and matter-of-fact tone that reflects how an actual sociopath thinks. Writing in those types of books tends to stay away from too much internal doubt, expanded description, or floweriness. He Counts Their Tears is a rare exception, with D’Alto sparing no ornate description: “the dark brown coffee made a huge puddle on the pale grey rug. Aaron stared at it, and in his mind it was the [spoiler!]’s blood, and he was sixteen again. Instinctively, he wiped his hands on the tablecloth, and in doing so caused the cloth to move. As it moved, one of the glass candlesticks fell onto the table, its flame creating a small bonfire in the pinecone centerpiece” (Page 51).

D’Alto is also extremely skilled at creating genuine connections between her characters, and, unlike many other psychological thriller authors, keeps her list of connections short and meaningful. Without going into too much detail, the relationship between Stein and his cousin Constance is masterfully drawn out from childhood until the end, and we are provided just enough detail to fill in the meaningful gaps ourselves.

Overall, I can’t recommend this one enough. Whether you’re a regular reader of psychological thrillers, fascinated with psychopaths, or just looking for an addictive read, this is definitely the novel for you.

Pages: 196 | ISBN: 1457541858

Buy Now From Amazon.com

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is a book review website which consists of mostly fiction books, but we do enjoy non fiction works that we're excited about. All reviews are the reviewer’s honest opinion. We love books and read constantly (seriously, it’s an addiction). We're always open to book review requests and have aspirations of one day being sucked into the Twilight Zone episode with Burgess Meredith where all he wants to do is read, but can’t until the world ends; you know what I mean?

Posted on February 8, 2016, in Book Reviews, Five Stars and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Great review! I hadn’t heard of this, but I love creepy-crawlies like this so I’m adding it to my TBR list.

  2. The Literary Lioness

    Thank you for the great review! I’ve never heard of this title but it definitely sounds interesting although I can see the trope being really annoying.

  3. Thank you for the review. I loved fast paced thrillers. Will definitely look for this one.

  1. Pingback: Terrible Journey Towards Emotional Hell | The Hungry Monster Book Review

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