Psychopaths Anonymous by Will Carver

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Psychopaths Anonymous by Will Carver

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Dark and violent, this is one for anyone who likes a chiller that leaves them feeling unsettled!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 276 Date: November 2021
Publisher: Orenda Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1913193751

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Maeve is a high functioning alcoholic, drinking continuously and also, curiously, addicted to attending numerous AA groups. She is also a self-acknowledged psychopath. Whilst analysing and critiquing the AA steps she is mainly using the groups to find targets...targets for sexual encounters, targets to feed her desire to hear of people's misery, and targets for her violent behaviour. Yet she also seems to be searching for others who think as she does, and when she's unable to find like-minded people in any of the groups she decides to set up her own, hoping to encounter others who share similar obsessions, and thus Psychopaths Anonymous is born.

There's a lot that shocks in this book, and it felt like a very unusual read to me. It has high levels of sex and violence from the beginning, and it is dark and chilling throughout, and not what I had expected! If you've read any Will Carver before you would undoubtedly be more prepared! This was my first, and so having thought perhaps it would be a dark but potentially comic crime story (I don't know...Psychopaths Anonymous sounded like a set up for a perfect humorous book) it was actually chilling and disturbing! There were moments when I felt myself physically recoil from the book, and Maeve was just terrifying as a character. I suppose there were odd glimpses of humour, but my general feeling as I read was one of horror or distaste...and yet I continued to read because somehow I found I wanted to know more about Maeve, and what would happen to her.

Much of the drive to the plot comes from this curiosity. I was wondering throughout how far Maeve would go, and if she would be discovered. You can't believe her audacity, nor that it will go unnoticed. Later in the book there's also the hint of something more, in relation to Maeve's first serious relationship, with a tease about his behaviour dropped in before the continuation of the story. Personally, I felt that was a little clumsy, as it felt obvious to me what was coming, and I felt that there had been more pace and intrigue just from Maeve's own behaviour and actions, without this set up.

I found the actual meetings of Psychopaths Anonymous to be a disappointment in the end. I'd enjoyed the various characters through the AA meetings, and the development of Maeve's character throughout. I suppose it's difficult to create terrifying bit-part characters, because we only get to see glimpses of them at the meetings. I was also surprised at how late into the book the group actually starts. There is a lot more story beforehand, and I found the first part of the book, and where Maeve is attempting her own version of the AA steps, to be the more compelling read.

I read this as a standalone book, but I've seen comments online that indicate that some of the characters have appeared in previous Carver stories, and I'm sure that must add extra layers for readers in the know. But you don't have to have read the other books - the story is complete within itself. I felt it ran a little long, but I wondered how much of that had to do with the fact that I had guessed what was coming. And so the ending fell flat for me. I think things had ramped up so much in my mind beforehand that I expected something truly horrific to finish! But the book as a whole was certainly quite unlike anything I'd read before!

For other chilling reads, take a look at some of Will Carver's other books Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver and Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver.

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