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The Killing Lessons (Valerie Hart 1) Paperback – 22 Oct 2015
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'Brutally compelling serial killer thriller... told at blistering pace.' (DAILY MAIL)
'Explosively exciting... The sheer brilliance of the prose and the pace of the action sweeps you up into a utterly believable world.' (SUNDAY MIRROR)
'Duncan/Black's superior scene-painting and psychological probing translate the mundane into the memorable. Similarly, the cliché of a serial-killing spree with a hidden logic is redeemed by the freshness of his characterisation of the seedy duo responsible.' (SUNDAY TIMES)
'The book is chilling and compulsive. It is exceptionally well written, with an excellent plot.' (Marcel Berlin TIMES)
This is a firecracker of a tale that whips along so fast , it's tempting to skip lines in eagerness to see where the plots heading. What stops you is the turn of phrase, which is so bright it can take your breath away. (METRO)
'Intelligent and moving as well as knuckle-whiteningly terrifying.' (Jake Kerridge SUNDAY EXPRESS)
'I loved this book. I loved the way I was taken through the story with no holds barred...The pace left me breathless, the characters are convincing and the story is a real adrenalin rush.' (THE CRIME WARP)
I found parts of the novel unbearable to read, but its pull is undeniable. (NJ Cooper BOOKS OXYGEN)
'Like rubbernecking at an accident, you can't tear your eyes away from this shockingly violent but compelling thriller.' (PETERBOROUGH EVENING TELEGRAPH)
This novel breaks brilliant. It's hard to tell what's the best part of The Killing Lessons: the sweaty-palm plot that races along like a squadcar on a high-speed pursuit, the breathtaking depictions of the characters, good and bad, or author Black's inimitable style. My vote? All three (Jeffery Deaver)
The most frightening serial killer thriller since THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBSSee all Product description
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The opening scene, a single mother in her house, seeing two men, and coming to the quick realisation that today’s the day she’s going to die, is so shocking and instantly grabs you. From there, the book doesn’t let you go. Even though the book lulls into some more emotional and sensitive parts, Black keeps you fully engaged with the story by sprinkling these quieter scenes with quick, punchy shocks that lead straight back into the drama. And oh, how delicious that drama is! It’s been a while since I’ve read a really gruesome, squirm-worthy story (Let’s Go Play at the Adams’ excluded) but this filled all those morbid needs of mine. This is definitely not a book for the faint-hearted, it’s filled with some really shocking moments! It’s also worth noting Black does not mess around in this novel. There are so many moments that punch you straight in the gut. Be prepared for several heartbreaking moments.
The crime of this novel is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It’s so difficult to create new crimes in books and that’s why we so often find the same story written over and over again, but this really is something new (for me at least!). It’s so dark, disturbed and evil. The killers themselves aren’t literature changing, but the motivation behind the killings is insane and the process of Valerie and the team discovering it is heart racing and intense.
The writing in this one is bloody fantastic, I mean I thought the Erika Foster books were good in terms of the story, but the writing was pretty flat. This, however, takes crime writing to another level. Black stepped into the skin of so many different people and you can feel that so many real emotions went into writing this book. The way he’s able to describe feelings and emotions is absolutely on the nose, how someone verbalises those things I have no idea, it’s like he’s crawled into your very being.
Another thing I loved about the writing in this novel is how it was told. It’s told in the third person from all the main characters, plus a few extras who only appear for a single chapter. I loved this switching and changing between the characters, it kept the story interesting and it was fun seeing the occurrences from each person.
I saw a review for this novel not too long ago, and it mentioned how the main detective was the cliché you find in all police-procedurals. Heart-broken, alcoholic, haunted but determined, and I thought “oh, great”, but surprisingly, even those Valerie was just that and that is the kind of main detective I usually hate, I found myself really engaging with her character. While she was reasonably self-pitying, it didn’t offend me as much as it has done from other similar characters. I thought she was pretty hard-headed and exciting.
The only thing I can say negatively about this book is that I felt the end dragged a little and suddenly became overly dramatised. I felt most of the novel, although outlandish, felt very real, but to keep momentum at the end, Black added in several very “Hollywood” moments which I felt ruined the realism the rest of the novel held. Also, the synopsis makes quite a focus on the little girl who escapes the murder scene at the beginning of the book, and while the book does go back to her a few times, her escape is not a huge part of the story until right near the end.
Other than that, this book was absolutely top notch! I’m definitely, definitely going to buy the second Valerie Hart novel (LoveMurder) and I hope Black brings out more in the series. I highly recommend this novel to any crime-thriller lovers out there! I’ve already passed this one on to my dad as I think he’d love it!
Final rating: 4.5 stars
Superbly written, I could relate to all its characters, even the serial killer, and the pace never lets up till the last few pages.
I feel Black (pseudonym of writer Glenn Duncan) has a bright future in this genre if he can produce further novels of this calibre, and at the price it's a bargain - but be warned - I found it very harrowing and I've read a lot of horror/thrillers. Not so much that the events are more gruesome, it's more the way you get into the minds of the characters. I feel as I need some stress counselling now!