The Degenerate Opportunity

Mark Lakeram

Book Cover



    Core Theme














    When one man’s dark past meets destiny, what future remains? Multi-millionaire Sebastian Bowman is prepared to use his own unique skills to change the world. While his approach might seem unorthodox, he knows that it’s his duty to help others realize the truth: that money isn’t what makes the world go round. Only opportunity can bring fairness to all, and only Sebastian can stop the powers that be from controlling society with their lies. But his mission lies hard upon his soul, and all may not be as it seems in his world. He knows that until he takes action, the world will remain disjointed, out of control, and unjust. But can Sebastian reconcile his duty with his dreams? Is he the right man to save the world, or is he truly a monster?

    Target Audiences

    Age: 18-34

    Target Gender: LGBT leaning



    Based on a True Story


    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: self-published

    Year Published: 2017

    Starting Description

    Sebastian Bowman is a psychopath. This psychological thriller novel is told from his point of view. Seb sees the present world as dystopian and goes about changing in his own unique way. The first half of the novel builds up the mystery of why is he the way he is and what exactly is he doing.

    Ending Description

    Changing tact he wrecks revenge on a gang that attacked him up and decides to help the weak by removing their oppressors in whatever form they take.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available



    Information not completed

    Mature Audience Themes

    Extreme Violence

    Plot - Other Elements

    Philosophical Questions

    Plot - Premise

    Overcoming Monster/Villain

    Main Character Details

    Name: Sebastian Bowman

    Age: 32

    Gender: Male

    Role: Antagonist

    Key Traits: Educated, Narcissistic, Seductive, Villainous, Badass, Lone Wolf, Masculine, Complex, Criminal, Sarcastic, Secretive, Unapologetic, Visionary, Aggressive, Crazy, Manipulative

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this




    A seemingly successful PR agent in his mid-thirties turns out to be a psychopathic serial killer. He kills people to spare them from the cruelty of life and thinks of them as degenerates. His killing has set him up to live a wealthy life, where he mostly kills the men he's had sexual encounters with in gruesome and brutal ways. He meets a man who he falls for, only the man is a police officer investigating the killings he is responsible for. And it gets personal, as one of those people was the police officer's friend.

    Overall Rating


    Point of View


    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: GOOD

    Characterization: GOOD

    Commerciality: GOOD

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: GOOD

    Premise: GOOD

    Structure: GOOD

    Theme: GOOD

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    The logline doesn't accurately describe the book and should be rewritten. The short summary is missing some important elements that should be included. Much of the rest of the profile is incomplete and should be completed.

    Draw of Story

    At first, I couldn’t tell what was going on. We’re introduced to a seemingly normal young man, but things feel off, and I continued reading because I wanted to know what was really going on. Setting up a first-person stream-on-consciousness narration with an unreliable narrator is a good hooking quality.

    Possible Drawbacks

    The nature of the violence was gruesome and at times upsetting. I could see it being potentially problematic that almost all the victims are gay men other than his sister. The megalomaniacal narcissism at times got a little old. In terms of the brutality, that’s pretty subjective and so may not need to be toned down, depending on the audience. It would be helpful to understand if there is a statement about the gay experience that’s translated into the brutality – is he self-hating or homophobic? Does he believe specifically that gay people should be killed to avoid the hardship they might otherwise endure from a homophobic world? If the story isn’t trying to make a larger point about that, it would be worth having some of the kills be for other reasons.

    Use of Special Effects


    Primary Hook of Story

    The hook is the way the book builds intrigue, making you wonder what is going on, because everything feels normal, but you know it’s not. Once the audience gets drawn in wondering what’s happening, they’re hooked.

    Fanbase Potential

    Psychological thrillers often have a built-in fan base. Shows like Mindhunter and You were instantly successful, and films like American Psycho have ingrained themselves in movie history because audiences are enamored by the things that in their daily lives and in polite company, they wouldn’t dare think about. But there lies a curiosity in many people about how a person, and what type of person, could do such a thing. It’s the reason that true-crime dramas are so popular as well. This could follow in that same regard.

    Awards Potential

    Psychological thrillers walk the line between artistic and visionary and gruesome and brutal. As it is now, this story definitely falls on the more gruesome side that makes it difficult to imagine it having Awards potential.

    Envisioned Budget


    Similar Films/TV Series


    What’s New About the Story

    Most of the time we see male serial killers, and so in that sense, it feels like this is a story we’ve seen many times before. However, he characteristics are unique in that he isn’t attention seeking with his kills the way many killers are portrayed, with calling cards and clues they leave at the crime. He just goes on his way. The gay aspect is unique to this type of story, however, it isn’t gotten into enough to make it a meaningful part of the story. It could be more unique by having a little more reason as to why the homosexual nature of the main character and his kills is important.

    Lead Characters

    The level of pathological psychosis of the lead character is incredibly compelling. Unlike in other types of serial killer stories, he doesn’t get off on almost getting caught and isn’t constantly trying to tell people what he’s done. This is a no-guilt hobby for him and he enjoys being good at it but doesn’t need to public credit.

    Uniqueness of Story

    It’s not necessarily a rare gem, as we’ve seen these types of stories before. But it’s definitely commercially viable and marketable, with a natural audience.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Streaming

    Analyst Recommendation



    At first a seemingly high-functioning, successful and wealthy PR agent, we find he spends his spare time luring young men in as lovers and then carrying out brutal murders when he is done with them. A psychological thriller, “The Degenerate Opportunity” lets you experience the world through the eyes of a sadomasochistic, narcissistic serial killer who believes he is putting people out of the misery of being alive. But what happens when he finally meets someone he allows himself to fall for, only to realize that person is a cop who investigating the murders he was responsible for, including murdering the cop’s best friend?

    What We Liked

    Psychological thrillers have long been captivating audiences. The gruesome, voyeuristic experience pulls people in and the thriller and suspense makes them want to find out what happens next. The Degenerate Opportunity does exactly that. The slow reveal of the main characters psychosis, dropping hints that something is amiss but leaving the audience confused, works very well to add to the anticipation and curiosity that the story provokes.

    Film: The book lends itself more naturally to a film adaptation. It fits well into the psychological thriller genre, which is very popular in film format. The slow reveal and descent from sanity to insanity maps out well into the major beats of a film. The first-person narrative makes the story more intimate and intense. Because the main character is gay, it would likely attract LGBTQ audiences who are into physiological thriller stories.

    TV: This could work as a serialized TV show by building out the more cat-and-mouse part of the story – each episode following another murder by Seb, the antihero, and corresponding detective search by his lover Marco, who, unbeknownst to him, is the police detective on these assumed hate crimes. Having the story built in the form of a TV also allows for a more drawn out will-he or won’t-he find out that his lover is the killer? This type of cadence works well for a TV show to get people coming back each week to find out what happened.

    Key points: It is a strong psychological thriller; Main character is very compelling; LGBTQ component; Has built-in audience


    Set in London, the prologue opens on BOBS as he is escaping a sadistic rape and attempted murder after meeting a mysterious man online. His friend MARCO appears to help him get out, and they accidentally start a fire that burns down the whole Nightingale Hall apartment complex. The story starts 10 years later – following SEBASTIAN BOWMAN, aka SEB, a wealthy PR agent in his mid-thirties who just moved back to London and is looking to buy an apartment at Nightingale Hall. Through first-person stream-of-consciousness narration, we learn that Seb is an egomaniacal narcissist, who spends his time looking down on and judging the majority of people in society, referring to them as “degenerates.” We learn very few characters actual names, but rather the way Seb classifies these people in his head. The first half of the novel maintains a high level of ambiguity as we begin to see into his daily life. The ambiguity and omission of important details from the start makes Seb feel like an unreliable narrator, as we’re never quite sure what he’s really up to. Seb’s narration is broken up between describing his thoughts, his memories, and his present actions.

    We meet Seb on his way to his first day of work in the London office of the same PR agency he worked for in NYC. We see Seb going about his life – we meet his colleagues ROD, NAT, RAJ, and BUNTY, who we learn some gossip about; we see Seb defend FATTY, after a man on the subway is rude to her; we follow Seb as he views the Nightingale Hall apartment and puts in an offer, and we see him find JOE, one of Nat’s friends, who also lives in the building. We also see his personal side, going to speed dating and meeting SIX, going online and meeting HAUNTED. Throughout this narrative, though, Seb does some suspicious things – he goes with Fatty to buy some knives, the way he sneaks back into the Nightingale trying to be unnoticed, and in general the way he refers to the men he's meeting and things he's done in his past, though he isn't explicit.

    The second half of the book begins to become non-linear, going between narrated flashbacks and the present. We see that Seb gives money to a TRAMP who he lures back to a housing estate. He then recalls DRUNK, the first man he hooked up with when getting back to London, who he met in a club and was so drunk he took Drunk home. It turns out, the apartment that Seb is taking Tramp to, is Drunk’s apartment. This is where we first learn the truth about Seb – that he is a serial killer. Seb has been holding Drunk captive there and has Tramp rape Drunk and then subsequently kill both of them, making it appear like a lover’s quarrel. Seb goes to a psychic he refers to as SHE, who is able to see accurately into his past as well as his future. We learn that Seb had a sister and that his sister, ALEX, had Down Syndrome. He loved her very much and took care of her but ultimately killed her to spare her from the terribleness of being alive. The psychic panics when she sees in his future that he will kill thousands of people and asks him not to come back. The psychic, it turns out, is his mother.

    Occasionally, Seb repents for his sins by allowing people to beat him. He goes back to the estate where he had previously ran away from a GANG and gets them beat him up. He wakes up in an unfamiliar place, bandaged and taken care of. He wanders around the apartment and comes across a room that looks like a detective’s room, with case files and pictures of all homophobic-related crimes, many of them, his doing. He is found by Marco, who tells him that he rescued him from the beating and brought him back to his apartment on his request to not go to the hospital. He then reveals that he is a police officer who has been investigating all of the hate crimes because he wants to avenge his friend, Joe’s, death. Things between the two men become intimate.

    Seb then seeks out Haunted, who started dating one of Seb’s co-workers, RAJ, who he met at the office party Seb had taken him to. Feeling betrayed, he ends up pushing Haunted out the window . He goes to Marco’s place after Haunted's funeral and Marco shares that he has feelings for Seb and assumes they are reciprocal. But Seb is scared. After, Seb calls up DELIVERY GUY to go clubbing. At the club, he runs into PERSONAL TRAINER. The three end up going home together and having a threesome. Seb had also promised Six a trip and takes him to Lithuania. There, he violently takes his virginity while he is tied up, and hands him off to a sex trafficker who rapes him and sells him. We also learn that Seb is responsible for Joe’s death and gruesomely mutilated him.

    Seb is back hanging out at Marco’s place and sees a picture come up on his screensaver that startles him. He sees Bobs, from the beginning of the story, and suddenly recognizes Marco’s voice as the person who came to help. Bobs was the only one of his victims who ever got away and poses a threat to out Seb and his relationship to MARTIN. We learn that Martin was a very rich old man who lived in the Nightingale that Seb used and stole all his money. Martin died in the fire, but Seb never found Bobs until just then. To cover up his surprise at the picture, Seb admits to Marco that he had slept with Personal Trainer, who is also in the picture. Marco gets upset and asks Seb to leave. While there, Seb had put a flash drive into Marco’s computer to get data off of it. When Seb gets back to his apartment, Marco is there waiting for him. He tells Seb that the men who had beaten him up were found dead and people said they saw a man all in blue leave the scene. Marco says he forgives Seb since they weren’t in a relationship when it happened, and they share an intimate moment. Marco goes to the bathroom, where Seb realizes the clothing he was wearing from the murder of the gang members is still in the shower. Marco walks out with the clothes. Seb confesses and says he did it because they hurt him. He then pulls out sword from his secret compartment. We flashback to him running away to Japan after the apartment fire and spending a year learning how to sword fight. It seems like he killed Marco.

    In the epilogue, Seb shows up at MATT’s place, who turns out to be his life-long accomplice. He had given Matt the flash drive and Matt tells him that what he saw in it was that Marco isn’t a cop, he’s actually a spy working for the US government and that he’s planning a large attack on Iran. Seb reveals that he didn’t kill Marco, and that Marco is ok with keeping it a secret that Seb killed the gang.

    About The Author

    Mark Lakeram hails from London. The Degenerate Opportunity is his debut novel.