Today I am sharing my thoughts on the latest novel from Will Carver, Psychopaths Anonymous, a book that both is and isn’t part of the sort of but not quite Detective Pace series. If you have read any of the other books, you will know what I mean by that. This book is a kind of a prequel. Almost. My thanks to publisher Orenda Books for the advance copy and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invite to join the fun. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
When AA meetings make her want to drink more, alcoholic murderess Maeve sets up a group for psychopaths … The dark, unpredictable, electrifyingly original new thriller from critically acclaimed author Will Carver.
Maeve has everything. A high-powered job, a beautiful home, a string of uncomplicated one-night encounters. She’s also an addict: A functioning alcoholic with a dependence on sex and an insatiable appetite for killing men.
When she can’t find a support group to share her obsession, she creates her own. And Psychopaths Anonymous is born. Friends of Maeve.
Now in a serious relationship, Maeve wants to keep the group a secret. But not everyone in the group adheres to the rules, and when a reckless member raises suspicions with the police, Maeve’s drinking spirals out of control.
She needs to stop killing. She needs to close the group.
But Maeve can’t seem to quit the things that are bad for her, including her new man…
A scathing, violent and darkly funny book about love, connection, obsessions and sex – and the aspects of human nature we’d prefer to hide – Psychopaths Anonymous is also an electrifyingly original, unpredictable thriller that challenges virtually everything.
Well … Will Carver has done it again. Left me in a bit of a quandary. Another one of those ‘how the heck do I review this’ moments that I have come to know (and kind of dread) when reading one of his novels. And I say dread, not in a bad way, it’s just that as a reviewer you always have to walk a very fine line between conveying what a book is about and how it made you feel, without giving away too much. Will Carver always manages to leave me with a kind of ‘wtf-ery’ feeling that makes conveying my thoughts very difficult indeed. This latest book, Psychopaths Anonymous, is no different.
As I said at the start this is, sort of, a kind of prequel to the loosely formed Detective Pace series. It is the kind of book you can read before or after book one, Good Samaritans, but, as with all good prequels, you’ll probably get more from it if you read book one first. This is Maeve’s story. Maeve of Good Samaritans fame and notoriety, and so if you have read the book then her slightly skewed outlook on life will make sense. If you read this book first, then her response to what happens in GS will come a little to no surprise. Maeve is a, how shall I put this, interesting character. The title should give you the best clue of all as to her true nature, and the blurb leaves little to the imagination. That’s not to say that Maeve is a fully irredeemable character, at least not at the start. She just has a few … questionable (?) character traits. Peccadilloes if you like. Possibly soon to become full on psychotic episodes, but that’s for later in the book …
What I enjoyed about this book was seeing Maeve become more and more consumed by her obsession with the idea of death and murder. Written in first person, as readers we are privy to her train of thought, her gradually escalating need to satisfy the very deepest and darkest of urges. Unable to satisfy her itch by attending Alcoholics Anonymous, instead she uses it to target victims in a way that will both amuse and astound you as a reader. In many ways, this targeting, and indeed the escalation, is best understood if you do read this after reading at the very least books one and two in the ‘series’. There are many cross references, little easter eggs for readers in the know if you like, that will mean much more and be far more impactful if you do. But as you come to understand that chronology of this particular tale then things will both make sense and not.
As I read this book there was almost a kind of sliding doors, crossed timelines feel to the stories. Scenes which belong both in Maeve’s future and the readers past. The whole thing kind of have a female equivalent Patrick Bateman vibe, but told in Mr Carver’s trademark brutally acerbic and twisted way, representing all that is wrong with modern society (although this is technically slightly set in the past) but in a way which is brutally honest, and darkly humorous. I’d expect nothing less. And Maeve is such a perfect conduit for this dissection of modern life, to pull apart it’s rights and wrongs, cast aspersions against the elements of our existence -religion, family, friendships – that are often just fundamentally flawed.
Maeve has a dark heart, an astute mind, and a cold and calculating personality that makes the narrative flow. She is, in a word, a psychopath. What else. Will Carver has portrayed her in a way which is both off putting and yet completely engrossing. She plays with her victims like a cat with a mouse. She has the measure of those around ehr, and she is incapable of mercy. But what else would you want in your protagonist, and what else would you expect from this particular series? If you have read GS, then you know that she’s no saint. Far from it. And this book is a real exploration of those shadows that exist within her. But it’s not all about the darkness. There are moments that really did make me smile, scenes where I had a good chuckle where convention suggests I really perhaps shouldn’t. Gallows humour or just the fact we are all a little bit twisted? Read the book and decide for yourself.
There is a twist to this tale. One which I was perhaps both expecting and not. There is a kind of inevitability about what will come to pass from the very moment the Maeve meets Seth, but watching the progression from early attraction to what actually happens is as entertaining as listening to Maeve’s inner thoughts, expressed on the page with absolutely no filter, for your reading delight. A partnership that seemingly shouldn’t work and yet does. And again, one of those reasons I’m torn between saying absolutely don’t read this before Good Samaritans or absolutely do. It’s a real dilemma.
Dark, twisted, funny and undeniably acerbic, and a little bit madcap, support groups will never be the same again. Psychopaths Anonymous, is pretty much everything I’ve come to expect from a Will Carver novel and I have no doubt fans of the series are going to love the book just as much as its predecessors.
About the Author
Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Sunday Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts.
Author links: Twitter
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Books by Will Carver