An Absolute Gentleman

( 3 )


A gripping first novel, based on the author's real-life relationship with a convicted murderer, that delves with subtlety and nuance rather than violence and sensationalism into the mind of a serial killer.

Meet Arthur Blume: charming guy, small-town college English professor, struggling writer, and occasional murderer. In this chilling debut novel, acclaimed author R.M. Kinder draws on her firsthand experience of dating a convicted murderer to brilliantly channel the voice of a...

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An Absolute Gentleman: A Novel

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A gripping first novel, based on the author's real-life relationship with a convicted murderer, that delves with subtlety and nuance rather than violence and sensationalism into the mind of a serial killer.

Meet Arthur Blume: charming guy, small-town college English professor, struggling writer, and occasional murderer. In this chilling debut novel, acclaimed author R.M. Kinder draws on her firsthand experience of dating a convicted murderer to brilliantly channel the voice of a polite, even sympathetic man who just happens to be a serial killer.

An Absolute Gentleman opens in a prison cell, where Arthur Blume is hard at work writing an account of his life-one stained in places with abuse and cruelty, but also characterized by everyday banality. Only as the plot unravels do the chinks in Arthur's armor of normality begin to surface, and the monster beneath the pleasant fa‡ade appears as Arthur closes in on his next victim.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

You may never look quite the same way at that punctilious little man down the street after reading this chilling first novel from Kinder, author of two well-received short story collections (A Near-Perfect Giftand Sweet Angel Band). Inspired by her own brush with a serial killer-back in the late '80s her neighbor Robert Weeks was sentenced to life in prison for two murders and suspected of more-Kinder deftly limns the deadly odyssey of Arthur Blume, a middle-aged creative writing professor who manages to be both the most ordinary and the most monstrous of creatures. The well-paced action cuts between Blume's Missouri present and horrific past in Georgia as the child of a psychotic teenage mother (which forms his view of treachery as the natural order and women as innately deceptive). Along the way, his slyly dropped clues-or are they red herrings?-add to the intrigue. Though one wishes that Kinder had gone lighter on some of the Southern-fried Freud, this artfully told tale of psychological suspense is as gripping as the spider webs Blume is so fond of studying. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

In this absorbing study of a serial killer, told in the first person, Kinder offers a rather sympathetic view of a man who outwardly possesses the characteristics of a highly functional citizen. In fact, it's difficult not to like Arthur Blume: He's even-tempered, bright, and a well-respected teacher of creative writing. In fact, for a novel featuring a murderer, very little violence takes place. Instead, Kinder relates the latest chapter in Arthur's peripatetic life, which has him searching for elusive tenure and hoping to rekindle the creative magic he exhibited in his only novel, published 20 years ago. Besides his being remarkably laid-back, Arthur's dominant character trait is his insistence that everyone be treated fairly. This philosophy, and Arthur's reluctance to offer the smallest bit of information about himself, both frustrates and fascinates his new lover, Grace, a fellow professor who ultimately learns more than she wants to know. Kinder based much of this first novel on her experiences with a real-life serial killer named Robert Weeks, and her handling of her fictional character shows a sophisticated understanding of a madman's thought processes. For most general fiction collections.
—Kevin Greczek

Kirkus Reviews
A creative-writing instructor must choose between his serial killer instinct and the tenure track. In a chilling afterword, Kinder (A Near-Perfect Gift, 2005, etc.) says she intended to write about Robert Weeks, whom she actually identified "from an episode of Unsolved Mysteries" and whom her ex-husband, a homicide detective, arrested. The fictional Arthur Blume, whose persona she inhabits instead, has many standard serial-killer traits. He trained by abusing animals. He had an inventively cruel, sporadically psychotic mother, alternately nurturing and withholding of love and (despite her wealth) financial support. Blume, now 50, has gotten a job at a second-rate university in Mason, Mo. His initially innocuous-seeming ruminations on departmental politics alternate with memories of his childhood and adolescence on his mother's farm in Georgia. Occasionally, always in detached, offhand fashion, he mentions women that, years after the alleged slight, he had to dispatch because they had offended, in some trivial way, another male. Blume is immediately attuned to female turmoil in the English department. Queen-bee secretary Margaret has it in for Nada, an elderly woman who works as an underpaid factotum, den mother and gofer to the professors, yearning for mentorship. (Nada's written stacks of unpublished and mostly unread manuscripts-fiction, songs and poetry.) Grace, a faculty colleague, comes on to Blume as does Justinia, a student and part-time stripper. Grace hopes to enlist him as a fellow bourgeois bohemian, but he's an isolate who prefers his Victoriana-cozy apartment, where he obsessively massages the long-overdue successor to his "one-hit-wonder" first novel. Nada, althoughpestering him for validation (she crashes his advanced-writing seminar) is the closest thing he has to a true friend, until one icy day during spring break when the beast within must be fed. Blume's personality disorder makes him a prissy, fastidious monster, critical of other serial killers' cruder methods, but a monster nonetheless. The juxtaposition of the marginal "adjunct nomad" experience with the casuistry of the sociopathic mind will genteelly horrify even non-English majors.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582433882
  • Publisher: Counterpoint Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2007
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,518,110
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Rose Marie Kinder, who writes under the pen name R.M. Kinder, won the 2005 University of Michigan prize for A Near-Perfect Gift, a collection of short stories. Another collection, Sweet Angel Band, was awarded the Willa Cather Award in 1991. R.M. Kinder's prose has also appeared in Other Voices, Short Story, and the New York Times. The author holds an M.F.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. She currently resides in Warrensburg, Missouri.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2008

    Insde the mind of a (nice) serial murderer

    Author Kinder takes the reader inside the mind of a well-mannered, shy gentleman teacher, who just happens to be a serial murderer. It's like reading a high-brow version of 'Dexter' without the gore but with the psychological background of the killer intact.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2007

    One of the best thrillers this year!

    Arthur Blume, published author, teaches creative writing in Mason, Missouri. He¿s been convicted of murdering one of his students. The public has painted him and his mother monsters. In his memoir, he intends to rectify this misconception. Arthur narrates his life, not in sequential order, but by alternating between his Missouri present and his Georgian past. As I read about his life, I found myself forgetting this was a work of fiction. It felt so unbelievably real. R. M. Kinder, a masterful story weaver, gives readers penetrating insight into a serial killer¿s psyche. Throughout the book, I wondered if this is how neighbors and church members saw Dennis Rader, the BTK killer. From there, I wondered how well I know my own neighbors. ¿An Absolute Gentleman¿ by R. M. Kinder is first novel that is loosely based on the author¿s real-life relationship with a convicted murderer. As I read the last few paragraphs of the book, goose bumps formed on my arms. What a chilling ending! This book is without a doubt, one of the best thrillers I¿ve read this year. It¿s Oh-My-God good!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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