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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.