Book Number: N/A
Read this book for: suspense, Hitchcock vibes, psychological thriller, domestic thriller, unreliable narrator, stalker
Quick Review: Intense, creepy, and suspenseful in a way that would make Hitchcock proud, this all-too-real thriller is a must-read.
Before he met Verity Metcalf, Mike Hayes was fighting his way out of a brutal childhood and into a quiet, if lonely, life. V taught him about love and, in return, Mike has dedicated his life to pleasing her. He’s found the perfect home, the perfect job; he’s sculpted himself into the physical ideal V has always wanted. He knows they’ll be blissfully happy together.
It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t been returning his emails or phone calls.
It doesn’t matter that she says she’s engaged to someone else.
It’s all just part of the secret game they used to play. If Mike watches V closely, he’ll see the signs. If he keeps track of her every move, he’ll know just when to come to her rescue…
OUR KIND OF CRUELTY is a psychological thriller/suspense novel by Araminta Hall that allows you to live in the deluded logic of a man who genuinely believes that his girlfriend wants him in her life, despite having moved on, getting engaged, changing her contact information, etc. It’s absolutely chilling, in part because it’s all too believable.
There is definitely a Hitchcockian element to this book, along the lines of Dial M for Murder; a couple locked in a struggle with the tension of ever-present danger to the woman. It even has a creepy pseudo-twist at the end, although we won’t spoil that for you! Twists aside, this book is all about the suspense factor; not a lot happens (it’s not an action thriller), but the threatening feeling grows exponentially, with every move that Mike makes.
What makes this book so believable is that Mike very often does not seem that unhinged; in fact, out of context, many people would consider some of his actions sweet. Also, the majority of his actions stop short of anything criminal, and Hall does a masterful job of leaving just enough wiggle room in the potential interpretation of events that it makes the ending not only even more plausible, but rage-inducing. This is something that we’ve seen time and again and Hall drives her point home admirably — although I can’t say more for fear of spoilers!
The control, balance and deft hand that Hall demonstrates consistently throughout the book is absolutely perfect for what she is trying to achieve. It’s brilliantly done; it moves quickly and with mounting tension. The plot points and major incidents follow naturally, and, apart from being a very well done story, this book shines from a technical perspective on controlling tension.
OUR KIND OF CRUELTY is a brilliant suspense novel with a message to drive home; it’s one of the best suspense novels we’ve read in some time, and definitely should be on your must-read list this year!