American horror writer Steven King's latest literary creation focuses on a dark and sinister chartered accountant in 'A Good Marriage', which features in his latest collection of short stories, Full Dark, No Stars.
The unlikely CPA villain, Bob Anderson, is a partner in his own successful accounting firm and an avid coin collector. He is also a merciless serial killer.
Anderson has many of the characteristics that you would expect to find in any good accountant – meticulous record keeper, observant, master of details, adept planner and forward-thinker – the same set of traits useful to a person with murderous intent.
Overall, King does a good job of defining the orderly way accountants tend to think, but he also throws in many of the stereotypes you see on TV, an indication perhaps, that King doesn’t know many CPAs or, if he does, he doesn’t like them.
It is through the eyes of his wife Darcy that the story unfolds. As his wife of more than 20 years, she can easily pinpoint exactly what her husband is doing at most times of any given day – or, so she believes. That is until she stumbles onto something she was never meant to see. Bob’s presumed predictability provides a cover for his other life and, in the end, exposes his crimes.
Accountants are accustomed to ferreting out unintentional errors and the carefully concealed deviations from the normal path. King shows how the ability that assists in solving financial crime also can be useful in crafting a veil of deceit that can be hard to pierce.
In the book's afterword, King admits that 'A Good Marriage' and the other short stories in Full Dark, No Stars are harsh. But compared to some of King’s longer works that slap you in the face with horror on page one, these stories seem much tamer. That said, "A Good Marriage" is a story that is hard to put down. Feint-hearted readers can enjoy it while skipping over the worst details and not lose the sense of the story.
Accountants who read 'A Good Marriage' might enjoy seeing the parallels King draws between some of their best business and personal habits, and those of a psychotic killer. But the people who love and trust those number crunchers may never be able to view them with the same confidence again.
The collection of short stories is available in the UK in hardback.
Part of this article originally appeared in US sister title AcccountingWEB.com.