The Killing Lessons – Saul Black
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 corpses – 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 slaughter at the Cooper farmhouse didn’t quite go according to plan. There was a survivor, Rowena’s 10-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 terrifying than what she’s running from.
Thanks to Orion for my review copy, received through Netgalley
The Killing Lessons opens with a brutal attack on a family – two men enter their home and butcher a mother and her son. 10 year old Nell is also in the house but she manages to escape and begins a desperate flight for freedom through the woods at the back of her remote home.
Valerie Hart is a homicide detective who has been trying to track down a serial killer who mutilates female victims and leaves an obscure and seemingly random object inserted into their body. Hart has a great reputation amongst her colleagues, however, she feels increasing under pressure as the long hunt for this elusive killer drags on.
The Killing Lessons splits the story between Hart and her colleagues, the killers and young Nell who has found refuge in an unlikely place – yet she remains in jeopardy as the isolated haven she finds does not offer her the opportunity to contact the police.
The story is brilliantly balanced and Hart is an engaging lead character that you quickly find yourself rooting for. The dynamic between the two killers is fascinating. There is clearly an Alpha Male in the partnership, however, their relationship turns out to be quite complex and Saul Black unveils nuggets of detail as we learn more about the pair’s murderous past.
The Killing Lessons had me hooked from the outset. Seeing the hunt for a killer unfold while also keeping up with the murderers and knowing how close (or not) they were to capture was compelling reading. The final showdown was the perfect finale too.
An absolute must read for crime fiction fans.
The Killing Lessons is published by Orion and is available in Hardback and digital format.