Recently Reading: The Hand That Feeds You

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

I was disappointed by this thriller from pretty much the first page unfortunately.
Written as a collaboration between two writers, Amy Hempel and Jill Ciment under the name A J Rich, a lot of the inspiration came from a third writer friend, but unfortunately the blended writing meant that at times it felt distinctly written by different people and neither writer went quite deep enough.

The book opens with 30 year old Morgan Prager who is styudying victimology, who comes home to find her fiancee Bennett unrecognisable, completely mauled by her dogs and very, very dead. Morgan has a soft spot for dogs and her adopted dog Cloud and two fostered pit bulls are covered in blood...when law enforcement eventually arrives, one dog is killed immediately and the other two taken away as dangerous dogs. Morgan is devastated at this multiple loss, but when she tries to notify Bennett's parents she can't find them...the further she looks into the man she thought she knew the more she realises she didn't know him at all. Although, for Morgan this is given weight by the fact that she always goes for unsuitable guys, it just didn't ring true for me. Who in this day and age never meets their partners friends and family, goes to their house or workplace, has them meet the important people in their life and yet says yes to a diamond ring and a wedding? The fact that as Morgan researches further, more women who have had the exact same fake relationship are uncovered rings so false to me. I mean, really? What kinda woman? I just couldn't buy it.

Impeccably researched, I found the information about dog breeds, the process of looking after or fighting for a dangerous dog and also the theories around victims and sociopaths incredibly researched and this is where the book is strongest. Unfortunately, the character of Morgan is not fleshed out enough and as it is a first person narration there never seems to be enough depth to her thoughts or feelings to make us really care about her or to differentiate between the telling of the banal details. It is revealed that Morgan was raped as a young woman with the exact same tone as she would describe doing her shopping or hacking her ex lovers email account. This also hinders the build up of suspense, crucial to a thriller like this. I worked out the killer around 50 pages before the end, which was a definite anti-climax.

All in all, it's not too thrilling when you care more about the dogs than their owner.

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