Amazon Review: The Meaning of Hell
I was first introduced to the monstrous, nearly indestructible serial killer Jerry Thomas in the intense short story “Before Hell” (included at the end of this book), and was intrigued by his warped perception of reality and his no-holds-barred sadistic propensities. Plus the shear creativity of the torments he devises for his victims sets him apart from other literary serial killers.
“The Meaning of Hell” picks up Jerry Thomas’ story many years later, after he has been apprehended and committed to a prison that can barely contain him. The early portion of the book recounts his trial, where he is represented by court-appointed attorney John Rhaport.
Rhaport is repulsed by the monster he is representing. There is no doubt that he is guilty of the dozens of atrocities he is being tried for: in fact, Thomas’ defense stipulates that he did commit the crimes. Rather, his defense is attempting to get him acquitted on the grounds of mental instability. Rhaport is aiming for an aquittal that will result in getting Thomas locked up in a mental institution for the rest of his life. The worst outcome, from Rhaport’s perspective, would be a hung jury, in which case Thomas would be released to the streets. Rhaport bases his case on establishing reasonable doubts in the minds of the jury members regarding the state’s expert testimony.
He is only too successful.
The result of the trial is a hung jury, and Thomas is released back into a public that he places very much at risk. Meanwhile Rhaport and his law firm enjoy a blast of celebrity status for succeeding in a case where all the odds were stacked against them. Rhaport and his family are the ones placed in most immediate jeopardy by Thomas’ release. Thomas and his even more evil accomplice Dr. Steinhardt decide to take up residence in a new house because the state took Thomas’ old residence away. Their new home? John Rhaport’s family residence.
And so Jerry Thomas returns to Rhaport like a bad coin, but this time there are no police or legal institutions available to prevent Jerry Thomas and Dr. Steinhardt from doing their very worst to Rhaport and his family. And their very worst is just what these two sadistic accomplices are bent on inflicting upon them. This book is a page turner with interesting characters and harrowing situations.
I highly recommend the book to not overly squeamish readers who enjoy their horror extreme.