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4.7 out of 5 stars172
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 26 April 2012
This is an intense thriller which captures in print the tense, atmospheric drama of the two fantastic TV series.
It quickly became compulsive reading; sometimes I could not turn the next page quick enough; other times, I hesitated because I was anticipating some graphic unpleasantness coming up.
I have two nit-picking points (but before anyone pounces on me for being super critical, these points were, in my view, worthy of mention, but not so significant as to pose any threat to a five star rating).
The writing style threw me to start with; not only is it written in the present tense, which took a little getting used to, but an English pureist would have a field day pulling apart some of the sentence stucture. Strictly speaking, there are plenty of sentences that are not grammatically correct.
But for anyone who has seen Idris Elba's stunning on-screen portrayal of Luther, this style very much suits that character. And I guess that is my main criticism. Had I NOT seen the TV show, and not had, in my mind, such a clear cut image of that big man with the big walk, then I may have struggled with this present tense and the staccato sentences. But because I did have the benefit of reading this whilst picturing Elba, and hearing his voice, then I quickly came to terms with the style, and became engrossed in the story.
My only other minor point - without providing any spoilers - is that I found the inevitable showdown between Luther and the villain of the peace to be a little too similar to one of the early, if not the first, episode of the TV series. Once the scene had been set, then for the very first time in all my 'Luther' experiences, I was able to correctly predict the outcome.
But, as already stated, these minor niggling points were not enough to dampen my overall enjoyment of this compelling read. I am not a particularly squeamish person, but I did find myself wincing on a few occasions, and the heart rate certainly increased noticably at other parts.
Personally, I would recommended viewing some episodes of Luther first before reading this in order to get the absolute maximum enjoyment, though not compulsory, as this does stand alone as a fantastic read. But it does become so much more given the superb TV performances.
Can't wait for series three; can't wait for the next book.
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Neil Cross, sole writer of the BBC TV series, Luther, wrote this psychological crime drama prequel subsequent to writing the TV show. I have never read a book based on a screenplay that was any good, until now. Not just good, but unputdownable. Was it as riveting as the series? Absolutely. I wasn't distracted by segueing from film to print, or going back in time, or the sizzling reminders of Idris Alba, who consummately personifies DCI John Luther.

"Luther is a big man with a big walk," is Cross's understated way of describing this very complex and conflicted London detective of the Serious Crime Unit. He was once a post-grad English literature major, who met his wife, Zoe, when they took a comparative religion course together about twenty years ago. She is now a human rights attorney, and Luther fights crime on the streets.

John loves his wife, frequently despises his job, but compromises his marriage for the dedication and long hours that keep him away from home, physically and emotionally. He's hypomanic, which is, euphemistically, bipolar-lite. His mood is elevated and sleep is elusive. He doesn't drink. Now, there's an original and refreshing trait. Too many crime novels portray the alcoholic genius detective. Luther is a genius, but a sober one.

Luther has a temper. Violent criminals, especially psychopaths who harm children, provoke his rage. He periodically goes rogue in his tactics, creating hair-raising moments with his boss, Rose Teller. His partner and best friend, Ian Reed, is on the same page, but other colleagues frown when he disregards policy. They officially complain, complicating the plot and putting the squeeze on Luther's advantage against the clock.

Graphic violence is central to the plot, so beware the beast. However, it is not gratuitous. Cross is brilliant at combining Tarantino and Rumi. Luther is the thinking man's combatant, a scholar/warrior, a David Bowie enthusiast and moral strategist, with a hint of the mystical. Instead of a patched-elbow tweedy elite, which he could have been, he is fighting crime. Luther is a conundrum. On the one hand, he is deeply virtuous and applies his principles or morality to outwitting the criminal. On the other hand, his tempestuous means to an end approach often violate departmental ethics, creating considerable problems for Luther, his colleagues, and his superiors.

With a poetic economy of words, Cross keeps a sublime vise grip on the reader. Oh, those pages will fly and burn your fingers in the process. The pace is crucial to the mood and plot, and Cross maintains a fierce but restrained tempo, as incomparable as the series. You will be installed in the story by the first page; it is so exquisitely brazen, you will screech and howl before it is over. The next book in the series can't come soon enough!
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on 14 July 2013
After watching the fantastic Luther TV series,I wanted to know how it all began, I needed to look no further than Luther `The Calling'. A truly mesmerising story highlighting to me the stark choices between moral justice and doing whatever needs to be done to find and do what is inexplicably the `Right' justice. I really felt for John Luther as he was taken on a tumultuous journey pitted against the clock to try and catch a more than confident psychopathic serial killer/child abductor. There is a brilliantly riveting build up of suspense filled angst especially with time ticking away and the whole of his Region watching his every move under a microscope of distrust and foreboding. I really felt the plot came into its own when Luther's methods are brought under question whilst he challenges the conventional methods of police detective work as he deals with some very unsavoury criminals. Luther-'The Calling' is a true masterpiece in my eyes and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book - Compulsive reading for anyone who loves crime suspense thrillers and a sure fire collector for the die hard fans of the Luther Series

Definitely a fitting prequel to the Luther First Episode broadcast on BBC TV [...]
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on 27 October 2013
Having watched all three series of Luther I entered serious withdrawal and so bought this book. Crime is crowded a literary genre with more than its fair share of dross but this is a superior entry in the canon, up there with Thomas Harris. The prose is tight, economical and vivid, with characters drawn in indelible deep strokes and the use of the present tense lends it a relentless urgency and often uncomfortable immediacy. The plot is every bit as mental and OTT as any televised episode of Luther, in fact it is even more grim and grand guignol with a catalogue of the most appalling murders covering almost every subject from the cradle to the grave from baby snatching to paedophilia, rape and necrophilia. Some of the violence and cruelty is very strong and those with weak stomachs should avoid! Dog lovers too; I am not one, but even I found what happened to a character's dog quite distressing. The book really gets into your head and it barrels along at breakneck speed, driven by Luther's almost psychopathic obsessiveness. An excellent and highly entertaining story and an essential prequel to the Luther TV series, obviously a must have for all Luther fans.
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on 31 July 2012
Like many a "calling", it is difficult to handle.
This book is about a detective who has such a "calling"- to protect the victims, to find the perpetrators and to ensure they do not hurt anyone else.It is the last few words that open a world of ambivalence when the detective is confronted with a choice that may not fit with the legalities of the current system of justice which is often skewed in favour of the criminal.Luther is constantly torn by his consuming need to respond to his calling and the thin line that may cause him to fall afoul of the law.The story is very tense, and involves a disturbo who is kidnapping children to make a "family" in his own image.There are other threads to the story that intersect with the main thrust to keep the tension alive and to prepare(?) for future books about this character.An excellent read as the police track down a disturbo who has flown below the radar for many years committing horrible crimes, and who is determined to succeed at any cost.
Poor Luther needs to dump his unfaithful wife soonest in order to clear the decks for his true "calling"!
Can't wait for another book on Luther.
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on 11 August 2013
This book was recommended to me as a must-read book for all Luther fans. I loved it. The characters are all complex, the 'good guys' are just as flawed as the 'villains' albeit in very different ways. The character of John Luther is just as engaging to read about as he is to watch. The book is essentially a prelude to the first Tv series and explains Luther's actions at the very start of the series. It is a gripping read although it is sometimes an uncomfortable one. It is one of those all too rare books that you are sad to finish - you want the roller coaster to carry on and on.

As an aside to this review I would like to say that I loved the fact that Neil Cross acknowledged the work of the actors from the TV series and heaped praise on their achievements in bringing the characters to life. It goes without saying that when you read the book, if you have wathed the TV series, you have Idris Elba and the other cast members in mind whilst reading the book. This added to my enjoyment of the book.

TRy it - you will not be disappointed.
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on 28 October 2012
Do i need to say more ? Oh, ok. I'm a massive fan of Luther but wasn't sure what to expect from the book to be honest but it really is as good as the series. Familiar characters, same driven, manic, on the edge Luther all in a pretty gruesome story that cracks on at a frenetic pace. Brilliant stuff, I read it within 24hrs. Just could not put it down !
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on 4 March 2014
If you are a fan of the TV series Luther then you need to read this book! It tells the background of how John Luther got to be the way he is and leads neatly into the first episode of series 1. Many times whilst reading this book I found myself thinking 'Oh, so that explains XYZ about the series'. I also liked how I could read it and imagine the voices and faces of all the people in the show.
Well written and sometimes rather shocking, I think this would also be a good read for someone who is not familiar with the series that is a fan of thrillers.
Rumour is that the tentatively predicted forthcoming Luther film will be based on this book and if so it should be a cracker.
My husband, who is not usually a fan of crime novels, but loves the TV series also gives this book 5 stars and I have never seen him read a book so quickly!
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on 1 November 2015
If you've enjoyed Luther on TV Luther Season 1, this is required reading. Fairly standard crime thriller, but well done, and with all the back story you need: this novel is basically the prequel to episode 1. Brilliant.
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on 9 September 2013
The Calling is a complex but tight story which, if you've ever watched an episode of Luther on TV, is absolutely crying out to be filmed. I appreciate the way Neil Cross kept me on a lead throughout this story, giving me more than enough interest to keep me panting at heel. It is refreshingly English. No tired, hackneyed American gum shoe rubbish masquerading as "hard boiled" in the pseudo Hammett/Chandleresque style: In fact, as other reviewers have said, I too, could not put The Calling down. I highly recommend this novel. On the strength of it, I bought a hardback copy of Neil Cross's childhood autobiography which also turned out to be a good read. Thanks Mr. Cross. More of the same please. To surmise: The Calling = Unmissable.
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