Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall
Apparently I have kicked off a theme for this week, since today's book review is ALSO a book club read, this time, for the Black Heart Reads group. This is a book club that I adore because they often choose mystery or psychological thrillers - which is of course, my most loved genre. Nonetheless, they manage to surprise me with recommendations of books that still may not have made it to my to-read pile (sometimes just because there are SO MANY good books to choose from in this genre, its impossible to catch them all!)
I have heard really mixed reviews on this book - but for me this was a massive win.
Synopsis: Mike Hayes had a terrible childhood - an alcoholic mother, always hungry, and bouncing between foster homes until he was finally taken in permanently by a loving and caring couple. The tumultuous beginning to his life led him down a quiet and lonely life, until he met Verity. Verity was the first person to understand him, the first person he could really trust and the first person he could love fully. Mike dedicates his life to creating the perfect world for V - the perfect house, making sure he has a great job, working hard to look like the perfect man, anything to ensure that V is the happiest woman alive. It doesn't matter that V isn't returning his emails, or that she is about to marry another man - Mike knows this is all just part of an elaborate game they play, and he is committed to seeing it through as a testament of his love for her.
This book is PERFECT when it comes to creep factor. Araminta Hall has created something masterful in twisting together the line between obsession and love, while blurring who is at fault until you as the reader can't be exactly sure who you are rooting for in the story.
I love books with complex and flawed characters, and this book has two lead characters who are deeply twisted characters at their cores, which had me fully engaged with the story. I was absorbed entirely in seeing where this book took me as a reader - every time I thought that it couldn't go any further, it did. It is like watching a car accident about to happen - you want to reach out to stop it, but can't, and meanwhile, can't tear your eyes away from the wreckage.
I think this should be on the to-read pile of anyone who loves a good psychological thriller, as well as any reader who loves reading a good, dark, twisting take on a love story - this book will not disappoint!