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The Killing Circle [Paperback]

Andrew Pyper
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Feb 2009

A spine-chilling, mind-twisting new psychological thriller in which a writing circle is haunted by a serial killer, from the acclaimed author of Lost Girls.

Some People Will Do Anything For A Good Story

Nothing seems to be going right for journalist Patrick Rush. Recently widowed, he's now bringing up a young son by himself. At work, he finds himself demoted to anonymous TV critic. It's time to do something.

So he joins a creative writing circle in hope of realizing a life-long dream - to write a novel of his own. But this circle is somewhat … unorthodox. The sessions are conducted in darkness, lit only by candles. Their shadowy leader has only recently come out of exile. And to make matters creepier, a gruesome serial killer is prowling the streets of Toronto – with an M.O. which bears more than a passing similarity to one circle member's tale about a child-snatcher called The Sandman.

But how could one sinister story have an effect on the real world? Could there be a connection, and if so, who's involved? As the line between fact and fiction becomes increasingly hazy, Patrick decides to cut all contact with the circle – until he finds that once you're in this book group, there's only one way out…

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (5 Feb 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007165080
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007165087
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,100,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I was born in a smallish town in southern Ontario, which makes me Canadian. It also, more markedly, makes me a boy born in a smallish town, which has left (for me) inescapably gothic inclinations. I write novels in which bad things happen to people like you and me, which is to say, people with secrets or desires they'd prefer to keep hidden away. Normal people.

My books are usually referred to as thrillers, or "literary thrillers," or mysteries, or suspense, or horror. Whatever they're called, they're intended to reveal character through the experience of fear. I guess that's my central intent, though "central intents" are always a moving target, aren't they?

My most recent novel is The Guardians, which is about the shared secrets of long-time male friendship, the horrors of turning 40...and a haunted house. Before that is The Killing Circle, which is about what happens when a wannabe novelist steals another wannabe's story and the villain from that story is given life in the so-called "real world." It was selected as a Notable Crime Novel of the Year in The New York Times. Then there's The Wildfire Season, about a man who must pass through a forest fire that has encircled a remote town in order to save his ex-girlfriend and the daughter he met for the first time only days earlier. The Trade Mission has been called a "modern Heart of Darkness" and involves a pair of overnight dot-com millionaires (remember them?) brutally confronting non-virtual reality after being pursued in the Brazilian jungle. Finally (or originally) there's Lost Girls, which was a New York Times Notable Book and Globe and Mail Best Book, won the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel, and concerns a defence lawyer who believes he's being visited by the ghosts of two girls, the presumed victims of a double murder committed either by his client...or the Lady of Lake, a local myth who waits to pull others down into the lake outside town...

The Guardians, The Killing Circle, The Wildfire Season and Lost Girls are all in development for feature films.

I also have a law degree from the University of Toronto I've never used, and a B.A. and M.A in English Literature from McGill University which have proved considerably more handy. I live in Toronto.

There's more at my website:

Product Description


Praise for The Killing Circle:

‘“The Killing Circle” is one great read: darkly lyrical and atmospheric, it's as haunting as it is gripping. Highly recommended’ Harlan Coben

Reviews for Lost Girls:

‘This is one scary book… You’ll want to keep all the lights on as you read this one’ Independent on Sunday

‘An excellently written novel, brilliant in its evocation of atmosphere’ Evening Standard

‘Extremely compelling’ Sunday Telegraph

‘“Lost Girls” is a hugely impressive and utterly compelling thriller’ Independent

‘A remarkably fine debut novel … “Lost Girls” has a menace that is all its own’ Time Out

‘“Lost Girls” is remarkable and compelling. But, more than that, it is a novel that goes some way towards reinventing the literary ghost story’ The Times

Book Description

Once you’re in, there’s only one way out

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Prose good, plot bad. 29 Nov 2008
By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE
You've probably gathered by now that the protagonist is a sad-sack alcoholic ex-journalist still grieving for his wife. He's also a wannabe writer who joins a creative writing circle in hope of inspiration and meets a murderer or three. Yes, it's that old plot again. Either this is autobiographical, in which case Pyper should get some help, or it's fictional. If the latter, it's unoriginal and uninteresting.

What kept me from sending this to the charity shop unfinished is the quality of Pyper's prose. In an age when so many successful writers are barely literate, Pyper writes lyrically and beautifully. It doesn't matter that I can't include a spoiler (because the identity of the murder(s) is so obvious) or that the characters are all detestable, you will want to get to the end of the book (a sorry disappointment) because he tells the story so well. In fact, this may be a book where you want to read the last 20 pages first to remove the miniscule element of suspense and then start from the front and luxuriate in the quality of the writing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a pleasant surprise 22 Oct 2008
I had never read anything by Andrew Pyper before - and I have to say, I am quite impressed. It was well written and fast paced, quite emotional and didn't fall into the usual hackneyed cliches - on the whole. Okay, I guessed 'whodunnit' within seconds of being introduced to the characters and also second guessed the other 'villain'... I also figured out the lead characters secret before it was revealed. But that did not blunt my enjoyment of a gripping read, most of the characters were well drawn and believable, the scene was well set and the book was on the whole well balanced. It won't go on my personal sluch pile and I will be reading it again.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sandman returns 21 Oct 2008
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Let me say from the outset that I loved this book. Initially, I thought I was in for a modern ghost story, something along the lines of 'The Monkey's Paw' but with today's penchant for a series of killings. In fact, this book is a thriller and an absorbing one at that.

An author's son is kidnapped at the start of the book and the reader is left in the dark when the horrified author tells us he knows who's taken him. We backtrack four years and little by little, the reasons behind the kidnap are revealed - none of them good.

Four years earlier the author was a failed journalist looking for a story to tell, a single parent with a four year-old son whom he adored. From this point, the characters he meets form the basis of what is, in fact, a gruesome and chilling revelation that the dreams both he and his little boy experience turn into reality.

There is a high body count in this book. A macabre series of killings which baffle the Canadian police but which the author determines to try to understand. This, then, is the basis of an extremely well-constructed novel, occasionally funny, always dramatic with a finale I certainly would not wish to spoil for the reader.

Suffice to say, the search for the boy does not really come into play until the last segment of the book. Prior, we are drip fed the transformation of dreams into reality with its gruesome toll of bodies and the spiral of despair the author experiences as those around him disappear.

I read this in one night. I didn't intend to do so but, once the story starts to move, you just have to know how it will end - and I'm not saying. Very much recommended for all thriller readers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriquing premise, but poorly executed 19 Oct 2008
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Patrick Rush, a widowed journalist with a young son, has always wanted to be a `proper' writer, an author, and so joins a writing circle in Toronto. The characters he meets there are bizarre, but he is caught by the fable/fairy-story being written by one of them about a young girl haunted or hunted by the mysterious figure of the Sandman. And then fiction seems to become reality when abductions, stalking and killings start in to take place in his neighbourhood.

Fast forward four years and Patrick is now a successful author having plagiarised the story of his fellow writing circle member: but he also seems to have re-awakened the Sandman who is stalking the writing circle and coming closer to Patrick himself...

The premise for this novel is an intriguing (if somewhat derivative) one, but the book itself never manages to exploit it to its fullest extent. Pyper seems to be unsure whether he is writing about writing, whether he's penning a supernatural/ghost story, or a fairly run-of-the-mill serial killer story and the mix collapses in on itself rather flaccidly.

The first-person narrator is, for me, both irritating and humourless; the characters are all cardboard cut-out; and the serial-killer stuff predictable and really rather old-fashioned (e.g. a dead body in a car is mis-identified because everyone assumes it belongs to a woman whose purse is found beside it - in 2007 when every watcher of CSI knows better?).

However there were some moments of genuine menace which raised this by a star, but overall this, for me, was no more than a poorish average. Not recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Read 21 Oct 2010
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book never having read any books by this author, but I was pleasantly surprised. The plot is strong and I think it is a well written thriller, with enough edge of the seat excitiement to keep you going. The body count is high enough for even the most avid fan of grizzly serial murderer novels. The only reason I have given it four stars is because I personally felt that the moving between years detracted a little bit from the plot. I liked the characters and feel that these were well written. I would certainly recommend this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A promising start
An interesting debut effort which shows promise for good things to come. This would not be my typical choice, but a little less ambiguity in the storyline would have suited my... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Mrs. Alison Taylor
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping read
I reada wide range of thrillers so this is my sort of book and I found it very enjoyable. The story flashes back in time when afetr the initial kidnapping of the writer's son the... Read more
Published on 24 May 2012 by Binka
4.0 out of 5 stars a solid effort
This is a pretty decent thriller/chiller. When former members of a writing circle start dying of murder, who is to blame? Read more
Published on 17 Mar 2012 by Wayne Redhart
2.0 out of 5 stars Nasty stuff
I've read a gazillion crime novels and 99 times out of 100 when I finish one, I forget all about it. Not this one, and not in a good way. It just left me feeling icky. Read more
Published on 16 Mar 2012 by liveenl
4.0 out of 5 stars it could happen
like many others i have never read anything by this author before, what i have to do is disagree with some of the reviews about slow pace and predictability with 'the killing... Read more
Published on 9 Oct 2010 by Mrs. T. L. Smith
3.0 out of 5 stars well written, but..
Pyper writes very well but in the end this novel just lacked something...

A journalist and frustrated author joins a writing group (circle) in the hope it will ignate... Read more
Published on 8 Sep 2010 by Tweedy
2.0 out of 5 stars The Killing Circle
Didn't enjoy this book, its rather slow to start and I found it rather dull and predictable. Not for me, I'm afraid.
Published on 13 July 2010 by Nikki
2.0 out of 5 stars Some genuinely chilling moments but ultimately disappointing.
Based around a reviewer's desire to write a novel and subsequent joining of a writers circle, this dark horror has some genuinely chilling moments, as the members of the writers... Read more
Published on 13 May 2010 by B. Lawes
4.0 out of 5 stars A Dark Story Of Suspense
I have never been a regular reader of "The Who Dunnit" genre over the years so I don't have a great deal with which to compare Andrew Pyper's latest novel of violence, kidnap and... Read more
Published on 13 April 2009 by Angel Delta
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent enough thriller
As a writer with many years' experience of writers' circles, I enjoyed the backdrop to this novel, and recognised several of the characters in the circle attended by the book's... Read more
Published on 4 April 2009 by Mr. N. Daws
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