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Savage Lane by Jason Starr
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Savage Lane

by Jason Starr

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I was pleased to be asked by Real Readers to review another book by the author Jason Starr. I previously reviewed Cold Caller a dark crime story which I enjoyed reading.

So when Savage Lane popped on to my doormat I was pleased and intrigued.

Savage Lane was a complete contrast and was basically a comic thriller; it portrays a dark side to suburbia. The only similarities to Clod Caller were that the characters were unlikable. The author writes so well and writes and weaves a good story.

Mark and Deb's marriage is in trouble. Both are hiding secrets from the other. Karen who has been recently divorced moves in with her children next door. They live in a lovely suburb of New York, and as expected things are not as they first appear.

I thought I had worked out the plot, but then I was not prepared for the twists and turns. Thinking this was really a drama unfolded into quite a thriller.

Beware your neighbours may not be quite what they seem.

Jason Starr is a great and versatile author and one to look out for next time you are browsing the shelves in store or online. ( )
  mexico24 | Sep 7, 2015 |
Mark and Deb Berman have been married for seventeen years; they have two children, Riley sixteen and Justin, twelve. Both of them are unhappy; Deb has a secret that could jeopardise her marriage and Mark has unrequited love for Karen, a recently divorced woman whose children are friends with Riley and Justin. After an argument with Karen, Deb vanishes; as news of her disappearance spreads, gossip surrounding Karen and Mark escalates, and unfortunately for Karen, Mark is not the only one with a deluded obsession with her.

Each chapter is told from a different character’s viewpoint giving an interesting insight on how each character views the situation. There were many twists and turns that kept me guessing what was going to happen next.

Savage Lane is the thirteenth novel from US writer Jason Starr; his first in six years. It is the first novel I’ve read by Jason Starr but will not be the last, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Savage Lane is a tense, psychological thriller that will appear to fans of Gillian Flynn. ( )
  Sezzy_09 | Sep 2, 2015 |
this is the first book that I've read by Jason Starr so I had no expectations of what it would be like and it completely took me by surprise.
It begins with an unhappy marriage where the husband Mark is having fantasies about a divorced neighbour Karen. Although Karen is oblivious to his affections, his wife Deb becomes suspicious and accuses him of having an affair. The tension builds as more secrets and lies are uncovered and it becomes clear that some characters are not always as they first appeared to be.
The story is told from multiple POV's which works really well, showing hoes a situation can be misconstrued and how each person's perspective can be totally different.
Just as I thought I knew where the story was heading there was an unexpected turn that changed the focus of the book. It became more of a thriller as well as a suburban drama.
Lost a star for me as the ending seemed a little rushed and the last chapter was unnecessary but this didn't stop this from being a great book.
I found this to be a thought provoking thriller that will make me think twice about my neighbours! ( )
  NickyMFoster28 | Aug 31, 2015 |
Savage Lane - Jason Starr

Savage Lane makes Peyton Place seem like Toytown. This is a novel of obsession. Obsessive obsession even. And like Cold Caller there are no likeable characters in this story. Even the people whose behaviour is not reprehensible, and there aren’t many (!), are not inherently likeable. It’s very uneasy reading and yet you are carried along in a relentless current. You wonder how one group of people can all get it so badly wrong at the same time. Like Cold Caller there is what I would like to call that frustrating essence of Highsmith where a single misplaced thought or action takes a character or characters down a very wrong road. and you are willing them not to do it, not to think the way, not t take that particular action, but they do, again and again. It’s a crime story and yet it isn’t. It’s the psychology of obsession and the destruction it wreaks on those involved whether they are choosing to be involved or not. Without the obsession there is no crime. American suburban life is not all that it seems.

To say this is an enjoyable book is hard but it does compel you to read on and on and on. I read this in a couple of days because I couldn't put it down. I read it in preference to doing other more pressing and important things because I couldn't put it down. It was almost as if I had become obsessed by the book. Mr. Starr must be some kind of conjuror!! But the overall feeling is one of being slightly unnerved by it all. ( )
  shizz | Aug 24, 2015 |
I must admit to never having even heard of the author before receiving a review copy of this book via Real Readers and, if I’m honest, I doubt if I would have bought it if left to my own devices. The back cover blurb implies a kind of damsel in distress meets stalker type of thriller - not my favourite type. However, I discovered that there’s actually a lot more to Savage Lane than that.

There are quite a few surprises in the storyline (at least one of which really did come as quite a shock to me) and it’s difficult to write a review that doesn’t give these away but I’ll do my best.

Set in a close-knit community in a New York suburb, he story centres around unhappily married Mark and Deb Berman and their neighbour, divorcee Karen Dailey. Feeling trapped in their marriage, the Bermans each find their own outlet for their unhappiness. As the consequences of their actions escalate out of control, Karen finds herself caught up in their drama in ways that increasingly threaten her quiet suburban life.

Reminiscent in parts of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, a central feature of the plot is an unhappy marriage in which each party blames the other for their misery and neither of whom are in any way likeable. In fact, almost none of the main characters, and few of the minor ones, are people you’d want to know - although you probably do know people a lot like them. But unpleasant characters are often the more interesting ones that keep us reading out of some perverse fascination.

As I said at the start, there is a bit more to Savage Lane than a straightforward psychological thriller. This isn't a story about one person, it is a story about society, told very well using the lives of a small group of the people in it. In some respects, I was more reminded of The Great Gatsby than any thriller I’ve read. One phrase on the back cover sums up this book better than any other part of the blurb: “a searing satire on suburban life”. Jason Starr portrays a suburban New York society that, ninety years after F. Scott Fitzgerald did the same, isn’t any prettier. The self-obsession remains.

Jason Starr portrays a society of individuals who refuse to accept any version of the truth other than the one they have invented for themselves. This manifests in fantasists unwilling to accept reality if it does not conform to their own fantasies and a host of major and minor characters who are quick to judge and slow to change their view even as the evidence tells them they are wrong. These are both strong themes throughout the book and would make excellent discussion points for a book club or reading circle.

One thing that might put some readers off is the frequently switching viewpoint, sometimes going back over events from different characters’ points of view. I thought this was very well executed with each character having a distinctive narrative voice. The ability to compare the internal narrative is a great way to see the assumptions and justifications that each character uses to determine their own version of the truth. However, I’m aware that frequently shifting perspective is a big turn off for some people and, if you are one of them, then this book isn't for you.

This also brings me to one or two grumbles of my own. Much as I liked the shifting perspective, I thought that the extra space needed to repeat events was accommodated by leaving too much out rather than making the book a little longer (which I would have preferred). In particular, I thought the ending was a little rushed and the climax/resolution seemed to come too suddenly. I would also have liked the character of Larry Walsh, the main police officer, to have been developed a little more, which a more prolonged, slower paced investigation would have allowed.

On balance though, I liked it.. ( )
  Mary.Moore | Aug 24, 2015 |
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In a suburb of New York City, Mark Berman and his wife, Deb, deal with their unhappy marriage in different ways, while their neighbor, recently-divorced Karen Daily, becomes the unwanted focus of more than one person's obsession.

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