Depths and Venom

Fiction - Thriller - Psychological
222 Pages
Reviewed on 11/01/2020
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Author Biography

This is C.R. Defuoco, He grew up throughout the State of New York before entering the military directly after graduation at the age of 17. After serving six years in the USAF, where he earned the bulk of his education, he began writing short fiction and social point of view articles while becoming an accomplished chef of exotic foods. C.R. uses the experience he's gained from traveling the world and studying human behavior, to develop his artforms. He now lives between New Hampshire and Florida with his beautiful wife, taking life one day at a time.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite

In Depths and Venom by C.R. Defuoco, self-made millionaire businessman Perry Roniami has never placed any importance on good morals or the well-being of others. For Perry, the only thing that matters is that he is respected and admired by everyone. As Perry recovers from a heart transplant, he should be thankful for another chance at redeeming his mistakes, but he is not. Perry's recollection of his life before the surgery is blurred but he does recognize the thoughts and vision he has started to experience are not normal. Perry still believes he will recover and the visions are nothing more than an inconvenience. However, this all changes when he receives his first phone call from a fellow ruthless businessman, Van Salvori. Van promises Perry that he intends to break Perry with slow, torturous pleasure. Perry's sanity slowly diminishes as little by little he is made to face and pay for his past sins. As Van unleashes a game of life from the darkest depths of hell, Perry is ready to face his past and try to reconcile his previous behavior, but is it too late?

Depths and Venom by C.R. Defuoco is an incredibly powerful plot that contains so much thought-provoking content. The character of Van is the type of villain that I thought only exists in nightmares. His sadistic mind games were absolutely chilling. Perry was a flawed character with many different layers to his personality. His inner dialogue and behavior truly highlighted his views and beliefs, such as gaining $200 million and then looking for tax write-offs. His treatment and views of homeless people were also truly shocking. I couldn't help but compare the storyline to a modern-day A Christmas Carol but with a chilling and dark twist. The dialogue between Van and Perry was exceptional as Perry was slowly broken down psychologically and physically. I thought the relentless disintegration of Perry was truly heartbreaking and really highlighted how your subconscious mind can be your best friend or worse enemy. There were also very interesting points made regarding Western behavioral patterns and cultural beliefs as well as the failures of the education and prison systems. Did Perry deserve his horrific punishment? I am certain the answer to this would spark a very interesting debate. Be prepared for some exceptional twists and turns throughout and an ending that is absolute perfection.

K.C. Finn

Depths and Venom is a work of fiction in the psychological thriller, suspense, and contemporary horror sub-genres, and was penned by author C. R. Defuoco. This chilling and mysterious work is intended for mature reading audiences owing to descriptions and themes which some readers may find deeply disturbing. We follow the exploits of Perry Roniami, a cut-throat businessman who loses much of his memory after surgery on his heart. This acts as a catalyst for a journey through Perry’s broken and traumatized mind, during which he meets another man who becomes a terrifying figure of torment for him. This results in a grisly psychological horror work from cover to cover.

Author C. R. Defuoco has crafted a well thought out and highly effective work of psychological thrills, suspense, and internal mystery, and one which is certainly not for faint-hearted readers. I admired the fact that the work could contain so much horror and terror without being excessively graphic or cliched, instead turning our viewpoint inward and often having protagonist Perry be the cause of his own destruction. This portrayal is achieved with an excellent sense of timing and detail in the narrative, which shows the author’s confidence in handling point of view and the presentation of speech and thought. Another highlight of the work is the arrangement of the plot, which delivers an asynchronous timeline that gives readers essential knowledge to piece the mystery together. Overall, I would certainly recommend Depths and Venom to fans of dark and realistic works that focus firmly on the horrors of our own making.

Jon Michael Miller

In Depths and Venom by C. R. Defuoco, we meet Perry Roniami, who in turn introduces us to his nemesis, Sullivan (Van) Salvori. It’s a first-person narrative in Perry’s voice. Retired business mogul at 57, Perry has just had serious heart surgery and has forgotten key elements of his life which he slowly reimagines as this tale develops. Perry falls into a category of unreliable narrators that include the duke in Browning’s Last Duchess and the narrator in Poe’s Cask of Amontillado. That is, the narrator reveals many distasteful traits about himself without intending to, which elicits a combination of literary irony and backhanded humor. Perry wanders around New York City (the best parts of the book) while trying to come to terms with his tremendously vile past. In his meanderings, we learn his philosophic views about evil, growing up, business success, romance, and the disintegrating state of the world. He has views on just about everything which erupt out of his own personal misery as well as from the suffering unleashed upon him a la Van.

I take Defuoco’s book as a dark comedy told by a brilliantly created first-person narrator who is flawed not only by the character negatives he unconsciously reveals about himself but also by the unending grammatical irregularities in his own telling of the tale—much as we chuckle at Huck Finn’s struggle with the English language. Perry’s speech is all too exaggerated and technically mangled to be taken at face value, and I even laughed aloud at times at the horrible picture Perry unknowingly paints of himself. He sees himself as superior to everyone but he is as mercenary and egotistical as one can be. And murderous, too. Only the extent of his suffering toward the end elicited a note of pity from me. And Perry knows everything from the intricacies of heart surgery to the complexities of international commerce. Defuoco’s character creation is a true tour de force. Thus, I didn’t know how to respond to the tortures Van Salvori applies in his maniacal mission to punish Perry for the latter’s dreadful misdeeds as they are excruciatingly laid bare. The book left me in a quandary of uncertainty, with many enigmas to decipher from the reading experience. So, if you are up for an intellectual challenge, and a dark one indeed, this book is for you.