Toxic Love (Book Review)

Updated: Mar 14, 2019

This one goes to eleven!

Toxic Love is the first release for a new extreme imprint known as RedLine. If you’re into boundary-pushing horror, bizarro fiction, and erotica, then you can learn more about this new imprint here . And if you don’t like reading those things, then Toxic Love isn’t for you.

The main character Mike Ashbrook has hit a rough patch in his Life. He’s forty-five, his wife has left him, and his two young daughters--who are now living with mom-- are starting to side with her against Mike. And to top it off, an emotional outburst gets Mike fired from his cushy HR job at the local grocery store. With few skills or goals, beyond staying out of corporate America, Mike makes an unusual career choice. Crime scene cleaner. Legal crime scene cleaner, that is. Called in after the cops, Mike gets paid to pick brain and bone out of furniture and bleach blood from the tile of murder scenes. Not a dream job, but pretty much par for the course with the way Mike’s life is going.

This alone would be a great set-up for an extreme horror story. That’s one thing I really like about Triana’s work, he picks characters and jobs and situations that readers don’t tend to think about. When I read a murder mystery, my attention always goes to the forensics team, the detectives, and of course the killers, but never the clean-up crew. Kinda like the film One Hour Photo with Robin Williams. If you’re a 90s child like me, you no doubt had several roles of film a month developed from your disposable camera at Walgreens. Never once did I imagine that the clerk behind the counter developing my pictures could be a creep obsessing over my life's memories of or even making extra prints to hang on his wall.

Mike Ashbrook isn’t creepy though. He’s just lonely and least in the beginning. When he gets a new co-worker named Sage though, Mike starts to lose himself to the whims of this gorgeous twenty-two year old employee. Oddly, Sage doesn’t have red hair—Triana is not shy about admitting his sexual fascination with Gingers (please see our interview)—even stranger though is her fetish, which turns out to be a main reason why she applied for the cleanup job. A job that most people quit after the first messy crime scene.

It’s 2019 and we are more open about our sexual fantasies. Some people love feet, others are aroused by food, and there is even a segment of the population who enjoy showers of the golden variety. I’m pretty understanding about letting consenting adults do their thing, however, I may need to draw the line of understanding at Sage’s turn on. For Sage, nothing gets her juices flowing quite like a pile of blood and guts.

As always, Triana keeps this from being a simple gross-out story by deep character development and an interesting plot line. When I see news reports of people busted for bizarre crimes like masturbating in public, watching porn at work, or dipping their testicles in restaurant salsa for customers, I have to wonder what pushed the individual to that point. Sure, some may just be crazy, but I’m sure others have a sad backstory. Temptations, addiction, loneliness and more that finally push them over the edge. Toxic Love shows you that story. Mike was a normal family man with two kids. What does it take to for a guy like that to fall into the depths of depravity? To allow himself to jeopardize everything he is, just for some sweet, sweet crime-scene pussy? Explore Toxic Love and you’ll find out exactly what it takes!

And don’t worry, I haven’t spoiled anything by exposing this twisted love tryst and fetish. The plot goes much deep and takes many more turns involving the mafia. I highly recommend this one for extreme horror fans looking for a great story! I’ll have to debate with Die Büchergnomen one day on which is more disturbing: Body Art or Toxic Love.

Oh, and once you’re done with this one, let me know if you’ve ever read a more disturbing death scene than the one in chapter 17, because I sure haven’t. Five bloody wieners way up; can't recommend this one enough!

And if you're ready to take your horror to the next level, enjoy this extreme horror coloring book by Kristopher Triana & Blood Bound Books:

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