Rating: 3 Stars
Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall, is more the diary of a crazy, twisted individual, than an actual story. It is narrated by Mike Hayes while he is in prison awaiting a murder trial. His lawyer has asked him to pen down his story as seen from his perspective, and Mike is only too willing to do that.
From the first page of the book, we realize that we are dealing with an individual whose concept of reality is different from that of the rest of the world. He lives in a bubble of his own, where his most important relationship is with Verity, his girlfriend. Of course, Verity thinks that since she has broken up with him, she is free to fall in love with someone else and get married to him. She is mistaken.
What Verity’s fiancè doesn’t realize, is that it is all a game that Mike and Verity are playing with each other. Verity only wants to pay Mike back for cheating on her, and is only trying to make him repent, which he does.
The book is quite creepy, and I would probably have given it a higher rating, had I not felt it drag in the middle. The reason I continued reading was that I was looking forward to the twist, or maybe Verity’s take on things, or failing that, some other equally deranged outcome. Alas, I was disappointed.
The book is only a look into the mind of Mike Hayes, which is not a bad thing, except that it becomes quite boring to read the same thing for so long. The book could easily have been 50 pages shorter, and it would still be the same story. By the end, I was wishing really hard for some other unthinkable outcome, but it all ended as expected.
There was one thing that really made me think, and that rings true for court cases all over the world even in this day and age. People will only see what you want them to see, but whatever they see will be coloured by their own prejudices. It is, and always has been, very easy to convince juries about immorality, especially if it pertains to women. So, while they might look at a man with indulgence, a woman will get censure for the exact same thing. The book takes that thought, and runs away with it.
For me, the whole court case was clichéd. The woman will have a woman lawyer, who is a hardcore feminist, while the man will always go with the cunning lawyer, who will bend the truth to suit him and let his client get away with murder (literally!). Why can’t the male lawyer be just that, a good lawyer, who gets his client off on technicalities, rather than lies? And why can’t the female lawyer be the villian who will go to no end to discredit her opponent? It’s time to change the narrative, in my opinion.
Overall, the main idea of the book is quite creepy, and going into the mind of a deranged and obsessed man is quite fascinating. I would recommend this book for lovers of twisted tales.