Friday, December 11, 2015

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Killing Lessons, by Saul Black {ends 12/18}

Her mother's eyes opened. "Run to Sadie's. I'm going to be all right, but you have to run."

There was the sound of furniture moving upstairs. 

"Now!" her mother gasped. She sounded furious. "Go now! Quick!"

Something moved much closer. In the living room.

Her mother gripped her by the wrist and spat: "You run right now, Nell. I'm not kidding. Do it or I'm going to be angry. Go. Now!"

To Nell, backing away from her mother, it was as if a skin that joined the two of them was tearing. She kept stopping. There was a fierce emptiness in her ankles and knees and wrists. She couldn't swallow. But the farther away she got, the more vigorously her mother nodded, Yes, yes, keep going, baby, keep going.

She made it all the way to the open back door before the man stepped out of the living room.

I haven't read a mystery novel in a long time, and I certainly haven't read a GOOD one in a long time. Sometimes I get so used to "chick lit" and non-mysteries that I tend to forget other genres exist. The Killing Lessons was a welcome re-introduction to the genre, and it's a fantastic novel.

Official synopsis:
When the two strangers turn up at Rowena Cooper's isolated Colorado farmhouse, she knows instantly that it's the end of everything. For the two haunted and driven men, on the other hand, it's just another stop on a long and bloody journey. And they still have many miles to go, and victims to sacrifice, before their work is done.

For San Francisco homicide detective Valerie Hart, their trail of victims--women abducted, tortured and left with a seemingly random series of objects inside them--has brought her from obsession to the edge of physical and psychological destruction. And she's losing hope of making a breakthrough before that happens.

But the murders at the Cooper farmhouse didn't quite go according to plan. There was a survivor, Rowena's ten-year-old daughter Nell, who now holds the key to the killings. Injured, half-frozen, terrified, Nell has only one place to go. And that place could be even more dangerous than what she's running from.

In this extraordinary, pulse-pounding debut, Saul Black takes us deep into the mind of a psychopath, and into the troubled heart of the woman determined to stop him.

At the beginning of this novel, we meet Nell and her family, who (spoiler, but not really, based on the synopsis) don't all make it. I thought from there that the novel would focus on two groups, Nell and the killers, but instead we meet a variety of people, including the cop who is working the case, and eventually we circle back to Nell's fate near the end of the novel.

The cop working the case, Valerie, is frustrated by all of the murders, and is obsessed with the case. There's another cop, Carla, who is new and dislikes her, and Valerie tries to figure out why; at the same time, a man whom she used to love (also a cop) turns up back at her precinct and she must deal with the him back in her life too.

We also meet a few of the victims, or one in particular, who is not yet (and maybe doesn't have to be) a victim: Claudia Gray, a British national who now lives in California, and is abducted by the pair of killers.

I found this novel riveting and hard to put down. Black really gets inside the psyches of all of the characters in the book, even though the book is written from 3rd person point-of-view, and I wanted to find out what was going to happen next. The novel reminded me of (a longer) episode of Criminal Minds, a procedural crime show that I like, and I wanted to know what would happen to all of the characters in the end.

What's interesting, also, is that someone on Goodreads mentions that it's the first book in a series (and he cites this site as evidence) - I wouldn't mind revisiting some of the characters in this book, and it sounds like the series might follow the cop on this case, Valerie Hart, presumably as she delves into different cases in the future.

4.5 stars out of 5.
{Click here to purchase}


Two of my lucky readers will win a hardcover copy of this book!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Friday, December 18th, at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be notified via email the next day and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner(s) will be chosen.

U.S. and Canadian residents only, please.

Good luck!

The Killing Lessons


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