Criminal psychologist Seonkyeong receives an unexpected call one day. Yi Byeongdo, a serial killer whose gruesome murders shook the world, wants to be interviewed. Yi Byeongdo, who has refused to speak to anyone until now, asks specifically for her.
For all its strengths, The Only Child might lose something in translation — especially as it relates to Korean serial killers. Although Seo compares the angel-faced killer to the similarly good-looking Ted Bundy, it would have enriched my understanding to have more context on how the notorious Korean murderers she names have impacted the Korean culture, something Seo knows well from an article she wrote for a popular Korean newsmagazine. There is also occasionally a clumsiness in the language that I don’t know whether to ascribe to the translation (by Yewon Jung) or Seo’s style. Either way, this promising author deserves better from her editors on either side of the Pacific ... A chilling, nuanced examination of today’s and tomorrow’s serial killers and the families who spawned them, The Only Child is nevertheless a valuable addition to the growing list of Korean crime fiction available to American audiences.
It’s easy to imagine this suspenseful, multilayered novel being adapted into a pretty sinister film ... this book is written in a matter-of-fact style, its restraint somehow making the events it describes even more chilling. Mi-ae Seo’s bio reveals that she’s currently penning a sequel; readers will be very curious to imagine into what dark places this story might go next.
... a sometimes frightening psychological thriller with echoes of The Silence of the Lambs and The Bad Seed. But the characters are only explored on the surface, the plot doesn’t break new ground and never reaches deep into the creepiness factor ... Seonkyeong has been nicknamed Clarice for the Silence of the Lambs character, but the plot relies too much on this trope and moves on a predictable path ... benefits from the growing relationship between Seonkyeong and Hayeong, who has never trusted adults. A truly unnerving finale puts a new perspective on the plot.