Review: Our Kind of Cruelty

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**5 Goodreads Stars**

“And you should never trust people who yearn to be something other than who they are.”

Araminta Hall’s debut thriller Our Kind of Cruelty takes you into the inner recesses of a deeply twisted mind. This is one of those books that won’t leave my head for years to come.

Mike Hayes, the narrator, falls in love with a beautiful lithe woman named Verity while in college. Verity has a penchant for danger, finding arousal and excitement in a game that she and Mike have nicknamed the “Crave.” Crave involves Mike and Verity going to nightclubs separately. Verity entices men at the nightclub, luring them to dance and/or kiss her. As soon as Verity gives Mike a sign (which involves touching an eagle necklace she wears), he intervenes and starts a fight with whoever is with Verity. Then Mike and Verity have passionate sex, sometimes right there in the public eye of a nightclub. Sometimes they take the game further, luring men and women into their hotel rooms.

Upon Verity’s insistence, Mike leaves London to take a high paying job in the banking industry. According to Mike, Verity encouraged him to take the job so that they could save up enough money to retire in their 40s. He also took the job so that he could buy Verity a beautiful house in London.

However, Mike is lonely on his own in New York and makes a fatal mistake by having a one night stand with a coworker who he doesn’t even like. When Mike returns to London for Christmas, he admits his betrayal to Verity, who immediately breaks up with him. Mike cannot believe that one brief affair could lead to the destruction of their long-term relationship. He begins to think that this is a new form of the Crave, as absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Much to his surprise, Mike discovers that Verity is getting married to a wealthy socialite a short 9 months after she broke up with him. He cannot believe Verity would move on so quickly after nearly 9 years of dating, so Mike continues to believe this is all part of the Crave. To what length will Mike go to get Verity back? Is her engagement part of an extended version of the Crave? Or is Verity playing both partners as part of a more elaborate game?

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I read this book in a day. I absolutely could not put it down. The narrator’s voice is infused with intensity, making you wonder what Mike is truly capable of. Is, for instance, the Crave all in Mike’s head? Or is something even more twisted than the Crave taking place?

Thank you to Araminta Hall and the publisher, MCD/Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, for an advanced reader copy of Our Kind of Cruelty. I cannot wait to see what Hall publishes in the future!

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