Summary and book reviews of The Killing Lessons by Saul Black

The Killing Lessons

by Saul Black

The Killing Lessons by Saul Black X
The Killing Lessons by Saul Black
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2015, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2016, 432 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
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About this Book

Book Summary

In their isolated country house, a mother and her two children prepare to wait out a blinding snowstorm. Two violent predators walk through the door. Nothing will ever be the same.

When the two strangers turn up at Rowena Cooper's isolated Colorado farmhouse, she knows instantly that it's the end of everything. For the two haunted and driven men, on the other hand, it's just another stop on a long and bloody journey. And they still have many miles to go, and victims to sacrifice, before their work is done.

For San Francisco homicide detective Valerie Hart, their trail of victims - women abducted, tortured and left with a seemingly random series of objects inside them - has brought her from obsession to the edge of physical and psychological destruction. And she's losing hope of making a breakthrough before that happens.

But the murders at the Cooper farmhouse didn't quite go according to plan. There was a survivor, Rowena's ten-year-old daughter Nell, who now holds the key to the killings. Injured, half-frozen, terrified, Nell has only one place to go. And that place could be even more dangerous than what she's running from.

In this extraordinary, pulse-pounding debut, Saul Black takes us deep into the mind of a psychopath, and into the troubled heart of the woman determined to stop him.

1

The instant Rowena Cooper stepped out of her warm, cookie-scented kitchen and saw the two men standing in her back hallway, snow melting from the rims of their boots, she knew exactly what this was: her own fault. Years of not locking doors and windows, of leaving the keys in the ignition, of not thinking anything like this was ever going to happen, years of feeling safe-it had all been a lie she'd been dumb enough to tell herself. Worse, a lie she'd been dumb enough to believe. Your whole life could turn out to be nothing but you waiting to meet your own giant stupidity. Because here she was, a mile from the nearest neighbor and three miles from town (Ellinson, Colorado; pop. 697), with a thirteen-year-old son upstairs and a ten-year-old daughter on the front porch and two men standing in her back hallway, one of them holding a shotgun, the other a long blade that even in the sheer drop of this moment made her think machete, though this was the first time she'd ever seen one ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

It’s deep. It’s complex. It’s explicit. But, damn, it’s well written. It had to be pure torture to assume the personalities of all these characters, to see and accept them in all their imperfections. But if you can stick with the overt and implied brutality of The Killing Lessons this is, indeed, one hell of a thriller.   (Reviewed by Donna Chavez).

Full Review (803 words).

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Media Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
Shockingly good writing…It's impossible not to be swept away by its propulsive momentum. The appeal of this dark and intensely disquieting book isn't entirely visceral either. By shifting the narrative point of view, Black allows us to peer into the depths of his many richly developed characters, from the surprisingly complex killers and their dedicated hunters to the supporting players who pop up only to be ruthlessly disposed of.

Associated Press
Compelling . . . graphic and disturbing. Black utilizes the psychological edge of his characters to elevate the story.

The Washington Post
The troubled, vulnerable Valerie is a strong and believable character, and she and her colleagues amount to an unusually admiring portrait of police work… Black squeezes every last ounce of suspense out of this story. One violent climax follows another…The Killing Lessons is state of the art in the ever-darkening serial-killer genre.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. At the start of this exceptional police thriller, two armed men show up at an isolated farmhouse outside Ellinson, Colo., with fatal results for the Cooper family. ...Readers will hope [Valerie] returns soon in another nail-biter.

Library Journal
Starred Review. A taut, smart thriller guaranteed to keep readers on the edge of their seats. Not to be missed.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. Aficionados may fault Black for allowing the police at least one major oversight, but most readers will likely be too engrossed or happily grossed out to do anything but whip through the pages.

Booklist
Starred Review. All of the serial-killer staples are accounted for: self-destructing detective, slippery killer, and sympathetic future victims. But Black, a pseudonym for acclaimed dark-fantasy author Glen Duncan . . . twists the formula with a killer who defies the coldly calculating criminal mastermind archetype, an unblinking willingness to off characters he's convinced readers to like, and a hokum-free thread of reawakening lost souls.

Author Blurb Linwood Barclay, New York Times bestselling author of Never Look Away and No Time for Goodbye
Do not read this. No reader deserves to be terrified like this.

Author Blurb Chris Pavone, New York Times bestselling author of The Expats and The Accident
If you want to ruin a perfectly good weekend with a gut-wrenching, spine-tingling, deeply disturbing, edge-of-the-seat-thrilling crime novel, The Killing Lessons is your ticket. Beware.

Author Blurb Chevy Stevens, New York Times bestselling author of That Night
The Killing Lessons is the best thriller I've read in years. It's so realistic at times that I had to stop and catch my breath. The relationship between these two killers, and the woman who is trying to capture them, is intense and tangible ... It's mind-blowing, terrifying, visceral, disturbing, and gorgeously written and I've been telling everyone I know that they have to pick up this book!

Author Blurb Lee Child, New York Times bestselling author of Personal
Unbelievably good...this one has it all.

Author Blurb Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of Crazy Love You
The Killing Lessons is a dark, twisted, and deeply compelling read. Saul Black perfectly inhabits each of his characters, even the most deranged among them, and weaves a breathless thriller that is as beautiful as it is terrifying.

Author Blurb Jeffery Deaver, New York Times bestselling author of The Skin Collector and Solitude Creek
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.

Author Blurb Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author of Fear Nothing
Completely mesmerizing! Black delivers a powerhouse of a thriller: two terrifying villains versus one damaged cop with numerous lives in the balance. Not to be missed.

Reader Reviews

CC

Thank you Mr.Black
This is the genre of suspense I love but at the same time it is the most well-crafted, brilliantly written book in the genre of "thrillers" ever written. From raw characters who grip your intestines to metaphors and similes that paint ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Novelist as Method Writer

PenThe Novelist by W.H. Auden

Encased in talent like a uniform,
The rank of every poet is well known;
They can amaze us like a thunderstorm,
Or die so young, or live for years alone.

They can dash forward like hussars: but he
Must struggle out of his boyish gift and learn
How to be plain and awkward, how to be
One after whom none think it worth to turn.

For, to achieve his lightest wish, he must
Become the whole of boredom, subject to
Vulgar complaints like love, among the Just

Be just, among the Filthy filthy too,
And in his own weak person, if he can,
Must suffer dully all the wrongs of Man.


Saul Black (pseudonym for Glen Duncan) employs no less than a half-dozen narrative points of view in his thriller The ...

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