Thursday, 3 May 2018

Audiobook Review: THE GOOD SAMARITAN by John Marrs

Author: John Marrs
Narrators:  Elizabeth Knowelden, Charlotte Cole, Matthew Lloyd Davies, Tim Campbell
Read: April 2018

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Book Description:

She’s a friendly voice on the phone. But can you trust her?

The people who call End of the Line need hope. They need reassurance that life is worth living. But some are unlucky enough to get through to Laura. Laura doesn’t want them to hope. She wants them to die.

Laura hasn’t had it easy: she’s survived sickness and a difficult marriage only to find herself heading for forty, unsettled and angry. She doesn’t love talking to people worse off than she is. She craves it.

But now someone’s on to her—Ryan, whose world falls apart when his pregnant wife ends her life, hand in hand with a stranger. Who was this man, and why did they choose to die together?

The sinister truth is within Ryan’s grasp, but he has no idea of the desperate lengths Laura will go to…

Because the best thing about being a Good Samaritan is that you can get away with murder. 

My musings:

Wow, this book! Where do I even start? Saying this makes me fear a little bit for my own mental state, but I just loved this dark and twisted tale of cat-and-mouse! It is definitely one of the most sinister books I have read all year, and one that made it easily onto my favourites list.

Having really struggled (and finally abandoned) Marrs’ previous book The One (I know, I know ... so many loved it but it just wasn’t me), I had this one sitting on my TBR list for a long time before finally delving in. And I’m so glad I did! The blurb really tells you all you need to know. Laura is a volunteer for a helpline, talking to people who just need a friendly ear to listen to their problems. She is trained to stay totally impartial, and to offer support to the person in whatever sorry state they are in, without passing judgment. Only Laura has her own agenda. There are wedding planners and party planners, so why not offer a tailor made suicide plan? After extensive research, she is the expert on all methods to take your own life, from overdoses to hanging, from jumping off a cliff to stepping in front of a train. On secret online forums she calls herself “the saviour of lost souls”. If she may say so herself, Laura is an expert on helping people die. And she sees absolutely nothing wrong with that. If that’s what people want, she is happy to deliver. Until Ryan finds out that it was Laura who helped his pregnant wife die, thereby destroying his life – and sets out to get justice.

The Good Samaritan must be THE best use of the unreliable narrator theme I have come across for a long, long time. It also has one of the most deranged and psychopathic lead characters I have encountered for a while. As Laura is telling her story, I made the one fatal mistake Ryan made: I totally underestimated her. To be honest, I even felt a bit sorry for her, because her story is such a sad tale of childhood trauma and having to live with the scars. Even her own family sound like they are not very nice to her, and she does spin a compelling tale why she does what she does. I was like that stupid hapless bug that flew right into the spider’s web! By the time Ryan came along and made me realise my mistake I was so caught up in her trap that it was impossible to back out.

After the first third of the book unfolds through Laura’s POV, short and sharp chapters take over in a he said / she said fashion that plays out like a deadly game of tennis. One minute the ball is in Laura’s court, then it’s Ryan who wins a set. Wimbledon has nothing on this evil little match that is played with live grenades that are meant to detonate the other’s life on impact. My head was spinning from my metaphorical head-bobbing – ping, pong, back and forth, back and forth. It was so nail-bitingly thrilling that I got palpitations and almost needed to triage myself for some blood pressure control and GTN spray. It’s not often that a thriller manages to get the better of me!

I could go on and on about the greatness of this book, so I will cut it short: if you love a dark and twisted psychological thriller that messes with your mind, then rush out and buy, beg, borrow or steal this book right now! Now for the trigger warning – some people may find the theme of suicide and depression and preying on the vulnerable extremely distressing. Personally, I admire the author for tackling a subject that is often so taboo in our society. In the whole dark and twisted plot there are also a lot of truths about death and suicide, especially the effects of suicide on the family and loved ones of the deceased. Ryan, who is the one left behind and bereaved, openly and honestly shares his feelings during the stages of grief he goes through, which gave a deeper meaning to the story. But if this subject touches a nerve, then perhaps this book is not for you.

I listened to it on Audible and spent a LOT of time sitting in the car in the driveway just to steal a few more minutes of listening time. After a long shift at work, this is always a sign of how much I love a book! Very highly recommended to all fellow lovers of dark and twisted tales!

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