Weekend Reads: "The Killing Lessons" by Saul Black

Drink: Hot Toddy

Favorite Line: "The didn't know it had been the kind of love the world thought it had outgrown."

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Hm, where to start? With the myriad love stories in this book that is actually a murder/thriller/suspense novel? The cozy feeling of curling up next to the fire that this book gives you since it takes place with many characters crawling around in the snow? Or that I'm actually not going to recommend this book to you?


The Killing Lessons is a very well written novel. Saul Black did a wonderful job of fleshing out his characters, giving each one a rich backstory and building up their stories along the way so that we could follow multiple people while they each slowly converged on each other. In that way, as a character study, it's quite good.

But—and this is a big but—Saul wrote a thriller/suspense/kind-of murder mystery. He just wrote it to be about 150 pages too long. I think he set out to write an epic, sweeping story of love, devotion and suspense around what drives us into our darkest moments. And he almost got there.

What is intriguing about this book is the theme of love that runs through each storyline: How we're energized by it; teased by it; defeated by it; denied it. And for a lucky few of us who find the person who's the person, how we feel guiltily rich swimming around in it for a lifetime. Saul does wonderful work in animating each of these feelings that we can all latch onto for a bit while we're reading and enjoying our hot drink by the fire.

That said (or, written), he could cut out a large chunk of story and still be left with an exciting read. It's most energized by two storylines of love, and wouldn't lose much cutting out the others. 

Up for Discussion:

  • What theme of love do you most relate to in this book?
  • Do you think Detective (oh lord, this is the worst name, I'm still shocked it got past an editor) Hart needed to give herself over so fully to her job in order to work this case?
  • Do you wish you knew more about the case and circumstances that drove her to such desperate moments in her past? Or would we rather create that in our minds? 
  • Ugh, do we hate Carla or do we hate Carla?

Comment with your answers below!