Savage Lane by Jason Starr

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Savage Lane by Jason Starr

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: A gripping thriller that sweeps the reader into a story of suburban America, broken marriages, sexual obsessions, and deadly crimes. Savage Lane excels as a thriller, a black comedy, and a character study – well worth a read
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: October 2015
Publisher: No Exit Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1843446811

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Savage Lane – a peaceful suburb of New York. When Karen Daily moves there following a marriage breakdown, she expects to find a quieter, calmer lifestyle, and soon becomes friends with her neighbours – Mark and Deb. Mark and Deb seem happy, but their marriage is failing fast, and Mark is slipping into fantasies of a new relationship with Karen. As Deb's suspicions grow, dangerous obsessions and deadly decisions will come to haunt the group – leaving Savage Lane irrevocably changed.

Everyone expects a good thriller to have at least a few surprises thrown in – but Savage Lane really ups the ante every chapter, with layers peeled away and new developments arising at what feels like every page turn. Thankfully though, Starr is a skilful writer, building characters carefully over the course of the opening few chapters, before throwing in developments that feel organic – albeit still shocking.

Whilst violence occurs, there is nothing gratuitous or over the top – although I can't deny some chapters may leave some a little shaken. Things never get too dark though – despite deaths and affairs, Starr never fails to thread black comedy throughout, and shifting the point of view to a different character every chapter helps to alleviate dark moments. The only place I thought this fell down slightly was when the viewpoint switched to that of a local policeman – his personal life was filled with so much drama that I longed to hear more about that. However, I do appreciate that the author wanted to keep the main plot tight and avoid too many diversions – something which makes it a rapid, page-turning read.

With Gone Girl being the go-to thriller of the past few years, comparisons are inevitable – some are on the cover. But this is a very different beast altogether. Still packed with thrills, Starr has crafted a thriller that also manages to be a hilarious satire on urban America and a careful character study. It also manages a far lighter tone than Gone Girl – whilst things do reach a dark climax in Savage Lane, there are still rays of hope visible, which I felt were sincerely lacking in Gillian Flynn's novel.

Carefully crafted and constantly thrilling, Savage Lane is a rapid and enjoyable read, so many thanks to the publishers for the copy. For further reading, I would recommend Second Life by S J Watson – another thriller I've read this year that had me racing through the pages until I reached the end. You might also appreciate You Were Made for This by Michelle Sacks or The Watcher by Ross Armstrong.

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