A psycho-sexual thriller about a wealthy couple, Mike and Verity, whose relationship is built on a game in which Verity allows herself to be semi-seduced in a bar in order that Mike should appear at a crucial moment and rescue her. When Verity falls for someone else, Mike becomes increasingly unhinged and delusional.
A spellbinding, darkly twisted novel about desire and obsession ... Therein lies the suspense and, may I say, horror in this story. Told from Mike’s point of view, we can’t tell if he’s telling the truth or what he thinks is the truth. If this had been a movie, I would have covered my eyes many times. Yet, just when I thought I knew what was going to happen next, the author surprised me. Seems I can’t read minds either. And that is a good thing when it comes to reading this thriller.
Hall’s considerable achievement here is to keep the narrative persuasively within Mike’s consciousness. The accumulating tension of the novel leads to a high-profile trial in which both protagonists are in the dock. While the orchestration of suspense is masterly, Hall’s real agenda becomes apparent in a feminist subtext: the way in which female desire is judged more harshly in modern society.
Our Kind of Cruelty proceeds to events that are horrid, often improbable, but certainly dramatic. ... Therein lies the novel’s problem: the characterization of Mike. The man is beyond delusional. He’s bonkers, certifiable. It’s hard to accept that someone smart enough to be a high-powered bank executive would be so utterly irrational in matters of the heart ... Personally, I don’t think there are many men around as deranged, daffy and dangerous as Mike. Still, I’ll grant that some women readers may find him more credible than I do. Love is strange. And, it is said, men, too.