I have never heard of the writer Luca Veste until a few weeks ago when he started to post some tweets about how he had 'trapped' me.
The background is this. I set up this blog to scrutinise the work of the right-wing public school commentator Jeremy Duns. But Duns and his gang of right-wing writers are so sexist that they cannot accept a mere woman would dare to stand up to them. So they keep insisting this blog is the work of a man, even though I am quite open about who I am.
The latest to join the hunt was 'Veste', who laid what he described as 'traps' that led Duns to conclude this blog was written by a man called Gerrard Killoran. As it turned it, it was a mistake, and Duns had to apologise soon afterwards. But in the meantime, Veste put out some smug tweets about how clever his 'traps' were.
What sort of man I wondered can talk about laying 'traps' for a woman? The language was so extreme, and so violent, that it led me to take a look at Veste's most recent book, 'Dead Gone'. What I found in this book was I believe genuinely shocking, and it tells me that something has to be done if women are to feel safe anywhere.
Readers of crime fiction have already started to complain about the obsession male writers have with extreme violence against women. I have already blogged about this in the work of David Hewson and Ian Rankin - and suffered terrible levels of abuse from the Duns gang as a result. But Veste has taken it to the most extreme level yet.
The book opens with a genuinely creepy description of a young women being sadistically tortured and murdered. A man captures her on the way back from a nigh club, which in Veste's world automatically marks her out as a 'bad girl' who needs to be tortured and killed.
Later on when the detective discovers her, she is described as being 'spread-eagled' on the ground, a shocking use of female sexual imagery. Clearly the author believes that any woman who opens her legs deserves what is coming to her.
There is worse to come. The story develops into one of a sick individual who carries out a series of 'experiments' on women. The descriptions are horrible to read, taking a perverse pleasure, it seems to me, in what is being described. In one scene a women is told that she will be tortured unless she is 'good'. In another, there is a discussion of slowly bleeding a women to death, a clear reference to the female menstrual cycle. The women in the story are kept locked in a cellar, and subject to levels of abuse that are both psychological and physical. At one point, one of the is described as 'begging for death, in much the same way a sexist male might describe a women as 'begging' for sex.
It was shocking to read, and I was asking myself as I read it, what sort of man could write this and why? And why would they think that anyone would want to read it?
There is a regrettable trend towards the use of graphic violence against women in the crime genre, and several women writers have courageously spoken out against it. But Veste has taken it to a new and horrific level.
Violence against women has become part of our culture, and in my view men such as Veste are responsible for that.
The issue now for women is how we stop them - and protect our bodies from further violence.
I believe that it is shocking that a major publishing company would bring out a book such as 'Dead Gone' - it is published by Avon, which is owned by Harper Collins, which in turn in owned by Rupert Murdoch, the same man who gave us Page 3 girls.
I will be blogging some more about this book over the next few weeks.
But the most important question to be asked I think is how can a book like this be stopped?