At home, Rachel Rhodes is a mother and wife. At work, she is a manager. At night, she is the infamous serial killer known only as Jill. Her secret will eventually affect everyone in her life, from her family members to the detectives investigating the case.
Luck starts off on her side as she befriends heartbroken detective Cole Dale, who’s an important link to the investigation. However, that luck seems to fade when Rachel meets Cole’s partner, an unorthodox and mentally unstable detective, Perry Charleton, driven by personal reasons to stop Jill using any means necessary.
The novel is told in an omniscient narrative style, allowing the story to have a hauntingly neutral perspective which disguises everything as it progresses and leaves no room for predictability, entangling the reader in a web of evil. Layered with symbolism and motifs, leaving the story to come together like a puzzle through the characters’ actions and interactions; its themes deal with such issues as dysfunction, impressionability and influence, sexism, racism and even humiliation.
As with any C. W. Schultz novel, Jill is a study in candor. The author himself calls Jill “a serial killer soap opera” as Rachel seeks the romantic, fairy tale ending that only a deranged woman would believe possible after the things she has done.
THE CLUB WAS BUSY FOR A WEDNESDAY EVENING.
Jacob Hansen observed this when he was halfway through his second martini and realized Colin Owen had not said more than “Dirty martini, Jake?” and “Another?”
Colin had been the bartender at Club Blue since new ownership took over a year ago. For the past three-and-a-half months Jacob had been coming in a couple times a week, usually on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. It was easier to pick up a woman when there wasn’t a crowd.
The typical woman at Club Blue was in her early twenties, slender built, usually tall, and always wild. Jake, however, was happy even with a woman slightly below par.
Tonight was unusually wild. Plenty of guys for the hotties to choose from which only reduced Jake’s chances.
“Hey, buddy,” Colin said as the bar began to die down.
“Colin,” Jake replied. “Busy night. What gives?”
Colin shrugged. “Business is business.”
“It looks like it’s slowing down a bit.”
“Shh. Don’t jinx it.”
“I thought business was business.”
“I won’t complain when it’s busy,” Colin began while wiping the counter. “That doesn’t mean I don’t prefer the down time.”
“Not so fast,” Jake said, then guzzled the rest of his martini and placed the glass where Colin had just wiped.
“What? You don’t want my company?” Colin teased, smiling as he swooped the glass closer to him. “For a guy who doesn’t want company, you sure look unhappy sitting here by yourself.”
A woman of 43—twice the age of most of the girls at Club Blue, but twice as beautiful—took a seat at the bar a couple of stools away from Jake.
He observed the few faint freckles on her face.
Cute, he thought.
He noticed a few more freckles on her neck, and even a few on her cleavage which she was obviously flaunting.
Look at those things! DDs, maybe even E-cups. Definitely at least Ds. I know who I’ll be thinking about if I go home alone tonight.
Jake was about to turn to Colin and say something like, “I’m not sitting by myself anymore, smartass,” but noticed that Colin had been pulled away by other customers.
Colin took their order, slid Jake his martini, and then prepared to make a couple of drinks for the people who just paid.
“Dark in here,” Jake observed.
Colin just shrugged.
“It’s getting busy again,” Jake pointed out, taking a sip of his third Martini.
“Looks like you jinxed me,” Colin replied as he mixed a margarita.
“May I have a dirty martini when you get the chance, please?” the woman asked.
“And put it on my tab,” added Jake.
Colin looked up from mixing the margarita and glanced briefly at the woman.
After Colin delivered the customers their drinks, he started on her martini.
“Thank you,” she said to Jake. “I’m Rachel.”
After the excitement of Rachel not rejecting Jake’s offer, he felt himself begin to blush. To avoid revealing how nervous he was, he said the first thing on his mind. “Aren’t you a little old for this club?”
You moron, Jake thought at the same time Colin raised his eyebrows.
Surprisingly, Rachel just laughed.
Is she laughing at me? “What I mean is… I felt like the only mature person in here. Then you came along and now I don’t feel so alone.”
“How old do you think I am?” she chuckled playfully.
“Old enough for me not to feel like a creep for buying you a drink.”
Rachel laughed again and then thanked Colin as he set the martini in front of her.
“What’s your name?” Rachel asked.
“I’m Jake. You from around here?”
“Actually, no.” She took a sip. “I’m actually from Portland on business.”
“Ah-ha. What do you do?”
“I started Flickerless Candle Co. Pretty much just a scented candle business. Small, but popular in Oregon and Northern California. Maybe Seattle might want some of my candles.”
“What do you do?”
“CEO of Sunrise Coffee.”
“You’ve heard of us?”
“I’m surprised, we only distribute in Washington.”
Rachel guzzled her Martini.
“Another?” offered Jake.
“I want a smoke.” Rachel pulled a pack of cigarettes from the little black purse that matched her hair and dress perfectly. The green color on the Marlboro Menthol 100’s pack matched her eyes that had already been matching the ring on her right-pinkie with an emerald-stone. Jake noticed this and thought black and green have never gone together better. “You smoke?”
“No,” Jake replied.
“Wait here while I smoke?”
“Or, you can keep me company outside.”
“Maybe I’ll bum one of those,” Jake said, feeling a bit useless just standing in the cold watching Rachel smoke.
Rachel opened her purse and handed him a smoke and lit it for him.
“I quit about four years ago,” Jake said, taking the first puff.
“Yeah? How does it taste?”
“Not good anymore.”
They shared a laugh.
Jake kneeled down and crushed the cherry gently. He stood up again and handed the dead cigarette back to Rachel. Aside from the blackened front and a faint yellowish inside the filter, the cigarette was in pretty good shape.
“Don’t mean to be rude,” he said bashfully.
“That’s okay. Don’t smoke it if you don’t want it. I’ll have it later.” She smiled and took it, digging into her purse again for the pack.
“I don’t mind standing out here with you,” Jake began. “But if you want, I can go back inside and order us another drink.”
“Wanna take this party somewhere else?” she suggested in a natural tone.
Jake was surprised at how perfect and easily things were falling into place. “Yeah,” he replied.
“You’ve had a little too much to drink. My motel room is about a block away. The Sunhill Motel. Room five.”
“Sure,” Jake replied, failing to disguise the happiness in his voice.
“Okay. I’ll head over now. Pay the tab and meet me there. You can pick up your car later tonight. Or tomorrow morning.”
Jake arrived at the Sunhill Motel almost twenty minutes later. He told Colin that he was going to leave his car in the lot until morning and to not have it towed. Jake slipped Colin $20, but Colin waved it off.
Jake insisted and added the $20 to his tab. Colin shrugged and said, “This one’s on the house.” He put a martini in front of Jake. He couldn’t resist.
Jake guzzled it. “Thanks. This will make me less nervous. I don’t know if I’ve ever been with a woman this beautiful.”
“Good for you, buddy,” replied Colin. “Wish I would’ve gotten a better look at her. It’s been damn busy. You jinxed me.”
Everything was going great. The last martini kicked in as he walked up the driveway to the one story motel.
There were 12 rooms, each with its own parking space in front of the door.
Jake found room five on the west side. No car was parked in front, but the lights were on.
Maybe I can give her a ride tomorrow. Keep this thing going.
Jake knocked on the door.
“Jake?” Rachel called.
“Come in. I’m just picking up a little. It’s unlocked.”
Jake turned the knob and entered.
He looked around the room. There was a TV to the left, the bed and nightstand to the right, and the bathroom adjacent to the door.
Typical motel room. He didn’t see Rachel anywhere. Where is she?
He saw movement out of the corner of his left eye.
He turned and saw Rachel approaching.
Jake awoke, staring at the stained yellowish-brown ceiling, the result of years of cigarette smoke.
It took him a while to realize what was going on, but it all sunk in when he noticed from the puffiness and strange mixture of numbness and soreness that his left brow was swollen. Pain became full-blown and he was then able to comprehend the extent of his injury—the shock had gone and the seriousness of what had just happened began to kick in.
He looked around the room and saw Rachel sitting on a chair next to the bed, smoking and watching TV.
“My eye,” Jake moaned, still in a bit of a daze, trying to communicate to Rachel that he was hurt.
When he moved to touch the wound, he realized that his arms and legs were tied to each of the bed posts with shoe string.
“Oh, you’re up,” Rachel said and turned off the TV.
Jake realized how calm Rachel was and hoped, Maybe this is just some kinky shit.
Rachel stood up and grabbed a syringe off the nightstand, shoving the needle into the side of Jake’s neck without hesitation.
Solid and heavy were the only two sensations Jake could convey. He felt like he was turning into stone.
“The Norcuron works pretty quickly,” Rachel said as she slipped the syringe in a medical bag, also black, next to her purse under the chair. “You’ll be paralyzed but capable of feeling. This is the ultra-torture accessory. A must have for any serial killer.”
Jake suddenly realized what was happening and began to scream, but deep moans were all that came out and before long, the moans turned into quick periodic gasps.
“I don’t like men,” she explained as she slipped on a pair of black leather gloves. “My father would fuck any woman in sight, and I ended up marrying a man just like him. My brother and my son will not be like them. Unfortunately, my brother contracted HIV from a blood transfusion about 15 years ago. The tragedy bestowed on one of the only men I actually love fills me with an indescribable rage. Nice guys do finish last… until I get involved.” She enjoyed giving all her victims her life story. Allowing the victim to understand the root of her anger robbed them of any hope that they might survive—they would understand she had no intention of not following through. Her brevity and matter-of-factness made it clear to Jake that he was not the first man to hear this tale.
Rachel picked up a hammer. It had Jake’s blood on it.
“I can’t take my anger out on my father because he’s dead, and I can’t take it out on my husband not only because he’s the father of my children but also an obvious tie to me, so you’ll take their place. You’ll be their substitute. You’re the next best thing.”
Rachel waved the hammer over Jake’s fully clothed crotch, as if contemplating exactly what angle to use.
“Most man-haters would love to devour a cock and balls, but me, I have more original tastes,” she said, pulling the hammer away.
Jake wondered what a “man-hater” would choose over that.
Rachel picked up her purse, removed a knife from it and then casually set it on the nightstand alongside the medical bag.
“My first victim was actually a castration,” she said as she stared at the reflection of herself in the clean silver blade, gently brushing her bangs away from her eyes. “It was boring. He expected it.”
She climbed on top of Jake’s limp body, reaching over to the nightstand for the hammer and laying it down next to him.
She leaned in close enough to kiss him, and said, “I wanna see you without a…
Critical response has been mixed.
While Schultz has said he will never play favorites with his stories, he has not done the same with his characters, stating that Detective Perry Charleton is by far his favorite character that he has created.