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The Killing Lessons

The Killing Lessons

Book - 2015
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"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 victims-- 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 murders at the Cooper farmhouse didn't quite go according to plan. There was a survivor, Rowena's ten-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 dangerous than what she's running from. In this extraordinary, pulse-pounding debut, Saul Black takes us deep into the mind of a psychopath, and into the troubled heart of the woman determined to stop him"-- Provided by publisher
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : St. Martin's Press, 2015
Edition: First U.S. edition
ISBN: 9781250057341
Characteristics: 392 pages ; 25 cm


From Library Staff

San Francisco detective Valerie Hart leads the investigation into a series of baffling murders. The only connection among the crimes is the discovery of seemingly random objects inserted into the victims’ bodies.

From the critics

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Nov 18, 2017

The pace of the book is pretty fast and you’re breezing through the book trying to figure out how this is going to come into play. There’s three different story arcs happening here in this book and it’s brilliant how it all came together in the end in one full circle. There plenty of moments where you’re saying to yourself; “Oh no...this is going to happen..” only something else will get in the way and you breathe a sigh in relief. This pretty much is a rinse repeat throughout the book but it doesn’t get tiring or boring. It enhances and makes the plot go faster and more exciting.

Hoo boy Xander/Leon. You are one pretty sad soul. Horrible childhood and all that is understandable but man oh man this is some brutal stuff you’re doing. Normally I cheer for the villains in most book but this one, I can’t. He’s horrible and twisted. You’re torn because you do feel pity for what he’s gone through as a child but he turned out so horribly wrong. This book is not for the squeamish for sure.

Valerie’s got my respect. She’s a total mess getting into the novel and has a lot on her plate. She faces a lot of overwhelming odds and constant pressure it’s no wonder she suffers from constant blackouts and physical reactions to stress. You almost wanted to beg her to stop and just take a breather, she’s a working machine that is endless even when her body is telling her it’s reaching the limit.

Actually you pretty much feel that way with all the characters in the book. They’re in constant emotional physical and mental anguish, they’re at their limit as to what their bodies can take but they all take it and go one step further it’s amazing how they’re still standing. I mentally begged Valerie to end it. I was just about to be in tears for all of them and the suffering they were going through.

The characters were great, the pace of the plot was excellent with a great ending to end things to a full stop. (A little weak on the explanation for Carla’s behavior, understandable but a little extreme don’t you think?) In any case, I greatly recommend this book. It’s an excellent read.

May 04, 2017

I gave this book five stars. The narrative is incredibly clear, the words flow just like honey.
It is brilliant and mesmerizing. I found the words to be so well written. The descriptions are
so incredibly disturbing. Normally in books that have lots of descriptive writing, I just scan
thru, until I get to the interesting part. This is the first book , I have read every word. It has
so many twists and turns. It is dark and very compelling. I will look forward to his next book.
Great job Saul Black.

Apr 22, 2017

I could do without the depictions of a cop at the end of her rope, as that is well-trodden crime story material. Getting into the minds of the victims, particularly an unlucky British illegal immigrant who must sink to the level of her captors to survive, was where this story becomes singular.

Dec 22, 2016

(The first book in the Valerie Hart, Homicide Detective series)

Apr 19, 2016

The first chapter of this thriller is riveting. The setting is perfect and it is every woman's scary nightmare come to life. I thought it trailed off after that, but still a good read.

E50taylor Mar 31, 2016

An amazing read with some wonderful plot twists. Not for the faint of heart but an amazing read!

dossiere Oct 23, 2015

very dark, could not wait to get the book done.

Oct 18, 2015

Two strangers turn up at an isolated farmhouse during the beginning of a huge snowstorm. Two serial killers reek havoc on Nell's 10 year old life, killing her mother and brother, but Nell escapes. Running terrified, half frozen, and injured she escapes into the frozen Colorado wilderness in search of help. Detective Hart is dedicated to solving these serial murders but is haunted by her own past and is starting to loose the drive to investigate and solve these horrific, brutal murders.

"The Killing Lessons: A Novel" is told in different parts and viewpoints. We begin with Nell's point of view, move on to Det. Hart's story and finally end with the view of the story from one of the serial killers. Rarely are mysteries and thrillers written from several different views but I really enjoyed that aspect. It adds more dimension to the story. I liked being able to see it through different eyes.

The author does a phenomenal job with character description and development. It was easy to imagine myself in the character's situation and get a clear picture of the surroundings and settings of the story.

That is where it ends for me in the positive aspects category. This book started on such a high note but faded. Don't get me wrong, it was a fun read, but not a great read. Repetition. Over explanation. Boring side stories. Unbelievable situations. These are all things that made this a 3 star read for me.

Be warned- the scenes described in this book can be VERY graphic. Murder, sodomy, rape, etc. The author writes in detail. Even for a true crime, serial killer, and murder story enthusiast like me, it was a bit too much and I skimmed through those parts. The horrible sexual violence towards women described in vivid detail was just unnecessary to me. The story would have been fine without such gory details.

***Mini spoiler***- the part in the story description on Amazon and Goodreads states that Nell is running into what could be a worse place to go than the house her family was just murdered in and where the serial killers still are. I kept waiting for a more horrific place for Nell to reach. She reaches a cabin in the woods with a man who will do anything he can to help her... the plot summary is a blatant lie. It was something that made me confused and then angry when reading. I feel that it was such a let down, that it's worth pointing out to future readers.

The overall theme at the end of this book that seems to tie all the characters together is TRUST. Betraying trust, loosing trust in someone, and finding out how to trust again.

A decent read. Not a non-stop page turning thriller, but a satisfying story.

JCLGreggW Sep 02, 2015

THE KILLING LESSONS by Saul Black injects some serious voltage into the serial killer genre. This story of two bad men, a damaged police detective, a reluctant hero, and a missing girl is an electrifying, mesmerizing read, and Black tells the story with alternating points of view, keeping the stakes high, while also keeping each character grounded and realistic. Simply addictive.


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Apr 13, 2017

“It made leaving bearable, knowing I'd had that kind of love in my life. Knowing I'd had the best thing.”

Apr 13, 2017

“All fear was, in the end, fear of death. Once you knew you were dying, there was nothing left fear. It gave you the last great gift, infinite courage.”

Oct 18, 2015

"Years of not locking doors and windows, of leaving keys in the ignition, of not thinking anything like this was ever going to happen, years of feeling safe- it had all been a lie... Your whole life could turn out to be nothing but you waiting to meet your own giant stupidity."


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Aug 21, 2017

jjwoodard thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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