- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

“The Killing Lessons” (St. Martin’s Press), by Saul Black

British novelist Glen Duncan uses the pseudonym Saul Black and jumps into the graphic crime genre with this stomach-turning, but ultimately compelling thriller.

The elements are graphic and disturbing - and no one is spared - in the opening pages of “The Killing Lessons.” Somehow with the harsh details and intense choice of words, the reader is given enough to keep going.

Two men appear in a Colorado farmhouse and kill a mother and her young son. A 10-year-old girl was outside when everything went tragically wrong. Frozen and scared, she ends up at the isolated home of a hermit, and he might have ulterior motives when he says he will help her.

San Francisco homicide detective Valerie Hart is investigating a string of murders all over the country because she sees a pattern. She has let her work and mindset destroy her life, and hopes she can solve the case before there’s another victim. Unfortunately, she fails.

Black utilizes the psychological edge of his characters to elevate the story above a gore-ridden tale. The characters, including Hart, are flawed, but they’re still worth following. The conclusion isn’t quite as good as the first half, but it’s still worthwhile.

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