The central character in Die Softly is a young man called Herb Trasker, he is eighteen-years-old and is a student at Alamo High. Herb is a quiet kind of guy who is a little slow in coming forward when it comes to the ladies. In fact he is so slow that his love life is at a standstill and he has never even kissed a girl.
Herb may not be too hot with the ladies, but when it comes to photography the guy is practically smoking. When he was twelve his mother gave him his first camera, as a Christmas present. It was a Polaroid and by New Year’s Day he had shot over 300 pictures and discovered a natural talent that he never knew he had.
The thing that Herb likes to photograph most is girls and at the beginning of the story he is taking pictures of the Alamo High cheerleaders for the school yearbook. Even while he is posing the girls, however, and snapping away Herb has other things on his mind. Other pictures. The ones that he is going to take the following night. The girls won’t be aware he is taking those pictures though and they certainly wouldn’t be so keen to pose for him because they will be in the showers at the time and very naked.
I must mention here that none of this was Herb’s idea. He isn’t a pervert or a peeping-tom. Herb is actually a nice guy—a clever guy as well. The idea of taking steamy pictures in the shower was someone else’s. Herb is just going along with it and is in two minds about the whole thing.
Herb does take the pictures though and when he develops them he gets a nasty shock because he has captured what appears to be a murder taking place, and this is what the whole story is based around.
It took me a little while to get into this book, but there is a lot happening in the story and by the time I reached the middle of the book I was hooked. What’s happening? Well, for one thing, the brother of Herb’s best friend, Theo, died less than a year ago, in mysterious circumstances and Theo believes that his brother was murdered. Then there is Herb’s other friend, a girl named Sammie, who is suddenly acting very strangely. And let’s not forget Alexa, who is one of the most beautiful girls in the school and seems to have taken an unexpected (by Herb, anyway) interest in Herb. And there is the recent death of a cheerleader and Herb’s pictures of her, in the shower, taken just before her unfortunate ‘accident.’
So, I asked myself, what the heck was going on in this small American town? Who was the killer and, more importantly, was Herb really going to get up close and personal with Alexa? It certainly looked that way. By the end of the book all of my questions had been answered. The plot is quite clever and I never expected everything to turn out the way it did. I got quite a surprise, I can tell you. Maybe you will too, if you decide to read Die Softly. It might have taken me a little while to get into the story, but once I did I enjoyed it a lot.
Die Softly is 189 pages long and the first two chapters of Pike’s novel Bury Me Deep bulk the book out by an extra eighteen pages.