From page one, it's clear that Mike is crazy about V, his sexually voracious girlfriend.
By the end of chapter one, it's clear that Mike is simply crazy and V is a young woman called Verity who is trapped in a toxic, obsessive relationship.
Both the strength and weakness of Our Kind of Cruelty was, for me, its structure as a domestic thriller; it has all the tension of the genre while simultaneously subverting the formula. However, the reader awaits twists and about-turns that never come - in this novel, what will be, will be. Nevertheless, the inevitability of events is compelling.
This is an intelligent novel and the author has an important point to make about controlling men and the treatment of women in the criminal justice system. The fact that the novel has been tagged as a "Gillian Flynn-style" thriller - Flynn being the reigning queen of the twist - adds to an aftertaste of unresolved expectations. Perhaps more insight into Verity's thinking would have added clarity, and a little more nuance would have lifted the ending.
Our Kind of Cruelty ploughs a pitiless path, and Hall's portrayal of a man with an unravelling mind is chilling. Her accomplished writing traps us inside Mike's disturbed mind - seeing up close the twisted logic that justifies his actions - resulting in an addictive and affecting read.
Published 3 May 2018
With thanks to #NetGalley for a review copy