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Saturday, 31 October 2015

Savage Lane by Jason Starr

Savage Lane

This is a dark tale from the start, shot through with a sense of oncoming doom. We begin the story by being plunged right into the bad marriage of Mark Berman and his wife Deb as they argue on the way home from a dinner party.

The setting is Savage Lane - the street, in an idyllic New York suburb, where Mark and Deb live and where, we find out early on, Mark obsesses about their neighbour, Karen Daily.

As the novel progresses we find out more about the location; the goldfish-bowl-like environment with the country club, where everyone discusses everyone else's business; the train that Mark and his male friends and acquaintances catch to go to work in Manhattan every day, and the school which the characters' children attend. It's all very claustrophobic, and maybe that's the root of some of the problems.

We soon find out that it isn't only Mark who is having fantasies of sex with someone other than his spouse, and as we find out how Deb acts out hers the story starts to move into really dark territory.

There is a sense in the first few chapters that we are waiting for something to happen. But the reader is not sure what. Then there is a point where an unexpected and pivotal event is triggered, which takes the plot off in a different direction again. This for me is where the story began to get really interesting. I don't want to say too much more than that for fear of spoilers.

The narrative technique chosen to tell the story is interesting as we get to see aspects of the story told from the point of view of all the main characters. This is revealing because it means we experience all the intrigue, all the fantasies, all the secrets and all the lies. We get to know all the characters really well and although none of them is really likeable, they are all interesting.

I would have liked to see more of the point of view of the police officer who gets involved towards the end of the story, but this is only a minor niggle.

If you like thrillers that are domestic, dark and psychological, this could be for you.

Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.

You can find out more here.

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