BUTCHER OF DREAMS
A Suspense Novel About The Theater
"Who, or what, is committing the escalating series of bizarre events leading to ritual murder? What does any of it have to do with the mysterious mask that lurks within the theater, that frightful mask that may be more than just a prop? The premise is indeed startling. This suspense novel ends up being a bit more graphic and horrific than most. But this works in its favor.
Butcher of Dreams is set in a world that is both real and unreal, both tangible and imagined. The 1980s New York setting is well-described, with countless details that evoke the era's apathy-toward-the-homeless philosophy. Equally interesting are the passages detailing the world of theater, a world that is colorful, gaudy, outrageous, and enticing, yet also somehow menacing for its illusions. One can never be truly sure whether something is artifice or reality, an acting moment or an emotional moment, and this uncertainty keeps the reader as well as the book's characters off-guard and interested. In this regard, Lee is the perfect heroine. She is imperfect enough to be interesting yet accomplished and intelligent enough to be believable as a crime solver and theater administrator. She works, along with the entire theater milieu, to create a mystery that is involving and surprising."
-Tory Lowe, The Ashland University Collegian
"Butcher of Dreams, a new suspense novel, is quite a departure from Kay Williams' last literary effort. One Last Dance: It's Never Too Late to Fall in Love, a comic romance begun by her father, Mardo Williams, a former Columbus Dispatch journalist, was taken over by Kay and her sister Jerri Williams Lawrence when their father died at 95 in 2001. Co-written with Eileen Wyman, Butcher of Dreams is set in New York's squalid Hell's Kitchen. It's 1985, and a fledgling theater company is trying to get through its first season without going bankrupt... or getting killed.
Lee's call to a temp agency has brought her Michael Day, a smooth-talking young man who insists he has plenty of money to buy her lavish gifts. Is Michael just infatuated, or is he unbalanced? With a whole troupe, there are plenty of suspects. Wyman has a radio and TV background, and Williams is an actress, so the backstage details have authority, and Lee's story is effectively told."
-Barbara McIntyre, Akron-Beacon-Journal
"Williams and Wyman have put together a first-rate suspense. They draw the reader in from the first page, and hold them with their vivid descriptions of ritualistic goings-on in this New York theater, even as Lee Fairchild is struggling to keep her dream afloat. This mystery is so character driven that it is easy to suspect any of the theater company...they all have something to hide. But it is Lee's ultimate struggle with loneliness and an overloaded professional struggle that brings the story to its shocking climax. Don't start this wonderful story if you have something else to do, because this fantastic plot will win the fight! A big thumbs up!!
-Shelley Glodowski, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
"The writing is tight and precise. The characters are amazingly detailed and believable, with their back-stories intricately weaving in and out of the main story line. Butcher of Dreams is one of the really thrilling mysteries I've read, remaining mysterious to the very end of the book … and scary enough that I did not want to read it when I was alone in the house."
-Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views.com
"Butcher of Dreams is suspenseful, gripping and teeming with interesting characters and details. The premise is indeed startling and a bit more graphic and horrific than most mysteries. But this works in its favor. It is set in a world that is both real and unreal, both tangible and imagined. The 1980s New York setting is well-described, with countless details that evoke the era's apathy-toward-the-homeless philosophy. However, equally interesting are the passages detailing the world of theater, a world that is colorful, gaudy, outrageous, and enticing, yet also somehow menacing for its illusions.
One can never be truly sure whether something is artifice or reality, an acting moment or an emotional moment, and this uncertainty keeps the reader as well as the book's characters off-guard and interested. In this regard, Lee is the perfect heroine. She is imperfect enough to be interesting – consumed, somewhat, with delusions of theatrical grandeur – yet accomplished and intelligent enough to be believable as a crime solver and theater administrator. She works, along with the entire theater milieu, to create a mystery that is involving and surprising."
-Tory Lowe, The Ashland University Collegian
"This mystery grips the reader from the start with its cast of possible villains, but beyond that, the authors have created a main character, Lee Fairchild, with whom everyone should be able to identify. Even as I worried over her physical safety, I related to the emotional stresses she faced, making her seem 'real' rather than a character in a novel. Butcher of Dreams offers insight into the world of theater that I never knew existed. Plus, the novel is simply good reading, one that's hard to put down."
-Leslie Snyder, master English teacher and Hall of Fame inductee
"Co-authors Williams and Wyman are masterful 'set designers' who have recreated Manhattan's hellish Hell's Kitchen of the 1980's in redolent detail. It is the perfect stage for heroine Lee Fairchild to construct her Off-Broadway repertory theater and for violent plots and romantic subplots to unfold. When the curtain rises on Chapter One, we are immediately introduced to a parallel narrative, set off in italics, involving an unknown being who "feels the breeze from unknown wings" and hears "the tic, tic of two heartbeats". This real time device vividly contrasts the busy, direct, matter of fact reality of Lee Fairchild with a second menacing "surreality"; when these worlds intersect, the consequences are shattering."
-Lynn Leonard, Idaho State University
Butcher of Dreams should be on the best seller list! The writing is beautiful and the suspense awesome. Not only did the authors paint a vivid picture of the theater and its actors, but they created characters that I cared about--I worried about Lee and Michael--her daughter Heather, Alan--and I suspected everyone. I couldn't wait to finish the book. I'm recommending it to everybody.
-Hedwig Noll, former teacher of English, counsellor
Butcher of Dreams has finely delineated, unforgettable characters, excitement, good writing, and apt literary allusions, particularly theatrical ones. Making it even more interesting to me is the intertwining of the masks from The Great God Brown with a Mexican mask and Meso American/Aztec/Mexican rites and rituals. I highly recommend it.
-Mary Sicer Moore, a book lover
"I often found myself yelling at the characters, because what they ought to do and what they actually did do were two very different things, and you never knew where you had them. Just as I thought I'd gotten them figured out, they'd turn and show a completely different side of themselves. Butcher of Dreams is a believable whodunit with lots of interesting characters. Even though I'd guessed the culprit almost from the very beginning, the authors did a good job of making me second-guess myself as conflicting pieces of evidence rose to the surface, and you end up suspecting just about everybody. A daring attempt, as it often seems overdone, but here it works. I [was] caught up in the plot and chilled by how it unfolded. A very disturbing read indeed."
"Butcher of Dreams is a mystery-suspense book set in a struggling off Broadway theatre in the days when 42nd Street was home to pimps, prostitutes, homeless and drug dealers. They all play a part in this fascinating story which combines the pragmatic problems of a group of players with the mystical magic of masks, masqueraders and Mexican folklore. Figuring it out is only half the fun-the page by page power and pace is even more rewarding."
-Francine L. Trevens, author of A Patio of Poems and Stories of Fairies, Elves and Little People
"When I first saw the physical book, I loved the look of it, the paper, the cover, the way it felt in the hand. At the end of page 3, I relaxed, knowing that this was a book I was going to enjoy. I had to stop 4 or 5 times, put it aside, and calm down, the tension got so great. I started to look at the end to see how it came out, but I said to myself, "Get a grip. They are not going to kill her off in the middle of the book. They MIGHT kill her off at the end - though surely not - but they SURE aren't going to kill her off NOW." and "They COULD kill her off now, and spend the rest of the book in flashbacks - but no, the wouldn't do THAT. [Butcher of Dreams] cries out for a sequel. Naturally, I speculate on Lee's future. And of course, I LOVED the theatrical background. I'm recommending it to the libraries in my area. A class act throughout."
-Jeannette Glynn, Retired Librarian
"I loved it. I was pulled immediately into the tension of the mysterious and frightening events. The behind the scenes life of the theatre and the complex personalities who staff it create a fascinating setting as the mystery develops and the suspense becomes unbearable. Suspicion as to the perpetrator builds in many directions and I found myself wanting to talk to the lead character, Lee Fairchild, to advise her. Eventually I succumbed. I ignored the world around me and read to the end nonstop."
-Sara Lee Burneson, Retired Educational Administrator
"Smart, tough, talented, sensitive Lee Fairchild is just the kind of woman who can successfully manage and act in her own off-Broadway theatre. She can cope with the seedy streets of New York in the 1980's, and can juggle the many needs of her gifted but tormented co-workers with the vision of great shows. But Lee is emotionally vulnerable because of her husband's recent death and when a ritually mutilated body is found in her theatre she must fight her way through a bewildering mesh of loves, fears, egos, myths, and blood to discover the truth that will save her theatre and herself.
Full of authentic gritty detail about off-Broadway in the 1980's, Butcher of Dreams will keep readers turning pages."
-P.M. Carlson, author of Crossfire
"Butcher of Dreams is original, creative, and suspenseful. The ending made me breathless and I stayed up until 3 am finishing the dramatic last third of the novel! However, it is quite amusing in places as well, creating comic relief. One of the talents of the authors is to cast suspicion on almost all the players. The insight one gains into the mind and motivations of a psychopath and the descriptions of the occult are truly captivating and gripping, a reflection of excellent research. Butcher of Dreams is so much more than mystery. With its original metaphors, similes and lyrical descriptions, it is an enthralling and creative novel. I loved it!"
-Mara Stark, retired teacher of Advanced Placement Composition
"I love the off-Broadway setting. And I understand Lee, the lead character. Her empathy and sympathy for others make her very vulnerable. She's a gifted actress and so is in a constant state of schizophrenia, understanding so clearly what other people want that it's almost as if she becomes them and so grants their wish to herself. The book speeds along at a fast pace, taking the reader to the edge-along with the heroine, who is marked for danger from the very first page."
-Laura Jacobs, Vice-President, Suntex
"I was hooked. That many of the characters are temperamental actors heightened interest and, at times, added important comic relief. The fledgling acting company threatened by seemingly occult events as well as by a sociopathic,/psychopathic unknown perpetrator created a suspenseful, on-the-edge-of-your-seat reading experience. As I neared the end, I couldn't put it down."
-Gretchen Saenger, Past-President, Worthington Women's Club, Chairman, Great Discussions Reading Group