Lobster Boy: The Bizarre Life and Brutal Death of Grady Stiles Jr.
by Fred Rosen
(Pinnacle Books, paperback, 331 p., $4.99 U.S./$5.99 Can.)

Commander Margie,

This is a transmission from Raymond, your friend who usually devours sick crap literature like a pig in a poke. I finally found one I couldn't make it all the way through, but not because it isn't riveting—it just started making me feel BAD.

It takes a real corker to stand out in the True Crime genre of the nineties, and Lobster Boy: The Bizarre Life and Brutal Death Of Grady Stiles Jr. sticks out like a sore claw. Fred Rosen chronicles the sleazy murder of a former circus freak in a contract hit arranged by his own family, who were fearful of his tendency towards drunken domestic violence. Rosen uses a conventional true-crime reporter style, tersely juggling the facts, interviews, and evidence into a noir narrative. The actual story is an unending Floridian nightmare of carnies, trailer trash, domestic abuse, drugs, booze, and aging circus freaks. Even looking at the cover is creepy—it's the Lobster Boy in his youthful prime, proudly displaying his pincer-like hands & feet with a Ferris wheel in the background. If there's someone out there with a stronger stomach who could finish this one for me, I'd be happy to let you take it off my hands (so to speak).