Is It Really Murder?

Am I Evil?” by Nick Younker

A short story review by Elizabeth Tabler

“Charlie Denton beat me like I had soiled the sanctity of his very existence.”


From the author, “A sociopathic man toys with State Investigator Linton Derr while being interrogated about a murder in the dead of night at an empty police station. Having been brought in under false pretenses, the man preys on Linton’s empathetic impulses and forces him to relive his vigilante practices that led him to that moment.

While things appear to be cut and dry, the tide of misinformation takes a drastic turn. A supernatural element forces a tragic change on everyone involved, even those they thought were dead.

“Is it really murder if you punish the guilty…”


My Thoughts

“Charlie Denton beat me like I had soiled the sanctity of his very existence.”

Nick Younker has a knack for writing seemingly innocuous words that drip with filth and malice. Or, maybe a better way to put it: his prose drives itself into the hard and grimier parts of your mind that you don’t like to talk about at birthday parties and makes itself at home.

“That is not to say that I do not have my own needs, though. Much in the same way that people enjoy sex, I enjoy power. I get that when people suffer, but it’s not enough. I need real power. I need the kind of power that demons and reapers carry. I already have my demon…

and soon, I will have my reaper.”

This is why his work is so dark and compelling. Anyone can write about blood splatter and chainsaws. But a great horror writer can write about the seemingly dull pencil rolling across a table or a knock on a door that raises the hairs on the back of your neck and have you throwing your book across the room.

The plot and dialog are described solely from the mind of a sociopath, Linton Derr. Linton’s words drip with disdain, malice, and a complete lack of care or compassion. Something, some connection is broken inside him. Linton has one goal, and to obtain that goal he needs to be placed in police custody and taken somewhere with the bonus of diving into the police officers psyches like a malicious worm. He manipulates them till they are frothing at the mouth and plays on their worst nightmares and regrets. Abruptly, the story ends and yet opens to so much more.

“Living within the parameters of the law is really just a game of deliberate calculations.”

My only caveat for this story, and it is a personal one, is my lack of connection to any of the characters. These characters have made appearances in other works by Younkers, and I wanted to understand the backstory more. However, this did not so much detract from the writing, but show me that I need to take a read at Younker’s body of work. Even with that said, this is still a 5-star short story and worth reading.

Linton asks in the first line of the story, “Am I Evil?” … hell yes, you are.

5 Stars


About the Author

younkerNick Younker has spent nearly twenty years working in local and national media. After transitioning from television to online journalism, he now solely pursues work in fiction.

With the exception of his debut novel, Nick focuses his work on short stories and novellas produced in Grunge Narrative style. His biggest influences in literature are novelists like Palahniuk, Blatty, Chabon, Blackwood, Bukowski and Grady Hendrix. Lyrical influences include Cobain, Vedder, Springsteen, Jett, Hetfield, Hendrix, Morrison and Roky Erickson.

He’s a father of two children and has spent most of his life in Southern Indiana, excluding 3 years in Atlanta while working with Turner Entertainment.

You can catch up with him on Goodreads and Twitter (@NYounker), active daily on both.

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