MLA Gold Award Site

Summary and book reviews of Death of a Thousand Cuts by Barbara D'Amato

Death of a Thousand Cuts

by Barbara D'Amato

Death of a Thousand Cuts
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2004, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2006, 400 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

The former residents of The Hawthorne House School for the Treatment of Autistic Children attend the first-ever reunion 15 years after the school closes, but events turn into a bloody nightmare when the school's founder is found tortured to death in the basement.

The first winner of the Mary Higgins Clark Award, Barbara D'Amato has been widely praised for her engrossing novels of crime and suspense. Now she opens the case file on a singularly savage murder, set in a uniquely disturbing setting.

The Hawthorne House School for the Treatment of Autistic Children was once known for its pioneering educational approach and remarkable success rate. Now, fifteen years after this celebrated institution closed its doors for the last time, staffers and former residents have returned to Hawthorne House for its first-ever reunion. The gala event turns into a bloody nightmare when the school's revered founder, Dr. Jay Schermerhorn, is found tortured to death in the mansion's basement.

Teacher, healer, and bestselling author, Schermerhorn enjoyed a worldwide reputation for his innovative therapeutic methods and compassionate treatment of autistic children. How could anyone have hated him enough to kill him? As Chicago detectives probe deeply into the history of Hawthorne House, a troubling picture emerges--of a man who inspired both fear and hatred in the children and families who came to him for help.

Death of a Thousand Cuts is a provocative and compelling thriller that exposes the insidious evil behind a facade of false benevolence. Like Mary Higgins Clark or James Patterson, Barbara D'Amato offers up a gripping tale that will chill and captivate readers long into the night.

I.

The moment a man begins to question the meaning and value of life, he is sick.
- Sigmund Freud, 1937

Chapter One
Friday, July 14, 1995

Jeffrey Clifford sat in the passenger seat of his sister's Mazda, hesitating to open the door. He stared across the wide expanse of heat-seared lawn at Hawthorne House, the huge 19th century mansion looming fifty yards away. Walls of blood-red brick rose from a stone substructure, with three stories of narrow arched windows like squeezed eyes. There were gable eyebrows over the third-story windows. On top of each gable was a sharp wrought-iron point. A steep roof of black slate rose from the third floor. Along its peak ran a wrought-iron railing crest topped with alternating spear-points and balls. At the tip of the roof ends — there were four because the building was cross-shaped like a cathedral — iron lightning rods rose up, each ten feet tall. The five brick chimneys that also shared the roof were funnel-shaped, ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Set in Chicago during the heat wave of 1995, D'Amato's new stand-alone thriller draws the reader into the world of autistic children. The character of Dr Schermerhorn (the former director of the Hawthorne House School) is based on Bruno Bettelheim, who ran the Orthogenic School in Chicago and wrote many books on autism. His methods, roundly disproved today, were based on the belief that 'the precipitating factor in infantile autism is the parent's wish that the child should not exist'. In other words he believed, and convinced many others, that parents were to blame for their children's autism.

In essence this is a police procedural but the setting, complex characters and issues that the book raises set it way above the average.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (167 words).

Media Reviews

Booklist - Connie Fletcher

D'Amato does a riff on paranoid thrillers like Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None in this ingenious suspense procedural.

Kirkus Reviews

D'Amato (White Male Infant, 2002, etc.) offers a fascinating glimpse inside a world few novelists would have the sensitivity to explore, even though the persistent bashing of Bruno Bettelheim and Sigmund Freud will make the killer obvious even to amateur therapists.

Publishers Weekly

Wry humor and characters with real depth help propel the plot to its poignant conclusion. As the further reading list in her author's note suggests, D'Amato has thoroughly researched her subject, raising some strong arguments against Freudian theory and practice that reflect the current debate over Freud in the psychiatric community.

Reader Reviews

Jon Doe

I cant find the answer!

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

The character of Dr Schermerhorn is based on Bruno Bettelheim, who ran the Orthogenic School in Chicago and wrote many books on autism. 

Bettelheim was born in Vienna in 1903.  As a Jew in Austria, he was interned in Dachau and Buchenwald from 1938-9.  His release was purchased (it was possible for some to purchase their release up until the outbreak of WWII) and he immediately emigrated to the United States, ending up at the University of Chicago where he headed the Orthogenic School.

His methods, roundly disproved today, were based on the belief that "the precipitating factor in infantile autism is the parent's wish that the child should not exist".  In other words he believed, and ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Death of a Thousand Cuts, try these:

  • Eye Contact jacket

    Eye Contact

    by Cammie McGovern

    Published 2007

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Adam, a nine-year-old autistic boy, is discovered hiding near to the body of his murdered classmate. Now the police are relying on Adam as the only witness to an appalling crime. But he can't tell the police what he saw—or what he heard. Barely verbal on the best of days, Adam has retreated into a silent world that Cara, his mother, knows only...

  • The Lighthouse jacket

    The Lighthouse

    by P.D. James

    Published 2006

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    The Lighthouse displays all the qualities that lovers of P. D. James’s novels the world over have come to expect: sensitive characterization, an exciting and superbly structured plot and vivid evocation of place.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Do No Harm
    by Henry Marsh
    British neurosurgeon Henry Marsh might already be familiar as the subject of the Emmy-winning ...
  • Book Jacket: Everybody's Fool
    Everybody's Fool
    by Richard Russo
    Written from multiple viewpoints, Everybody's Fool features an ensemble cast of inhabitants ...
  • Book Jacket: The Strings of Murder
    The Strings of Murder
    by Oscar de Muriel
    As Jack the Ripper eludes the police at Scotland Yard in London and all efforts to catch the most ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Since She Went Away
    by David Bell

    A chilling novel of guilt, regret, and a past which refuses to die...

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Life of the World to Come
    by Dan Cluchey

    Smart, sad and crackling with wit, a book about love, life and what happens after.

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Sweet Caress
by William Boyd

William Boyd's Sweet Caress captures an entire lifetime unforgettably within its pages. It captivates.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Summer Stunner
Summer Giveaway

Win 5 books, each week in July!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

C To T Q

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.