MINM Review: Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

Haunting and thought-provoking, with an underlying sense of inescapable menace, Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall is a psychological drama that keeps the reader enthralled and turning the pages right up until its unsettling finish.

Our Kind of Cruelty is, at its heart, the tale of one character's obsessive fixation with another.

Or is it?

This is a story that plays with the antagonist/protagonist paradigm. Perceptions can seem off-kilter, the reader never completely certain if the character shown to be delusional is strictly mentally ill, or, if their dreadful upbringing, as well as their social and impulse-control challenges have made them vulnerable to being molded, manipulated, and taken advantage of under the guise of love and desire. Fueled by the psychology - or psychopathy - of the other, whose fantasy is being fulfilled? What is real, and who is being truthful?

We learn at the beginning of the book that one of the characters has been convicted of a crime. The reader spends most of the remainder of the novel feeling the vise tightening, and the walls slowly closing in, as the reader creeps toward whatever precipitated that character's prison sentence, and the courtroom trial leading up to it. There are a number of ingenious and subtle references to the works of other, well-known, female crime writers sprinkled throughout Our Kind of Cruelty. 

Potential readers should be aware that there is a notable amount of sexual content in the book. If you are a fan of 2014s buzz-worthy novel "You" by Caroline Kepnes, if you are a reader who found the antagonist/protagonist push-pull of Ms. Kepnes's characters, particularly Joe Goldberg, fascinating, and if you enjoyed Joe's salacious, titillating, twisted narrative, there is an excellent chance that you will find Our Kind of Cruelty, by British author Araminta Hall, addictive, compelling, and very clever indeed.

Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall book cover image.jpg

Publisher's Blurb:

This is a love story. Mike’s love story.

Mike Hayes fought his way out of a brutal childhood and into a quiet, if lonely life, before he met Verity Metcalf. V taught him about love, and in return, Mike has dedicated his life to making her happy. He’s found the perfect home, the perfect job, he’s sculpted himself into the physical ideal V has always wanted. He knows they’ll be blissfully happy together.

It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t been returning his emails or phone calls.
It doesn’t matter that she says she’s marrying Angus.

It’s all just part of the secret game they used to play. If Mike watches V closely, he’ll see the signs. If he keeps track of her every move he’ll know just when to come to her rescue…

A spellbinding, darkly twisted novel about desire and obsession, and the complicated lines between truth and perception, Our Kind of Cruelty introduces Araminta Hall, a chilling new voice in psychological suspense.

Best for Crime Fiction Readers:

  • Who enjoy well-written, character-driven crime novels and mysteries that emphasize the psychology of the characters, as opposed to shocking twists, or breathless suspense.
  • Who enjoy crime novels and mysteries with one or more unreliable narrators.
  • Who appreciate courtroom dramas.
  • Who enjoy novels of domestic suspense.
  • Who don't mind a moderate amount of sexual content in their crime fiction.

Pages: 288 (Hardcover)

MINM Overall Rating: 4/5

If you have read Our Kind of Cruelty, did you also notice nods to the works of other, female crime novelists? If so, which ones? Mystery in Minutes would love to hear from you in the comments below!