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The Killing Circle [Mass Market Paperback]

Andrew Pyper
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 25 2009
A New York Times Crime Novel of the Year

A spine-chilling, mind-twisting psychological thriller — Andrew Pyper’s most gripping novel yet — in which a writing circle is haunted by a serial killer.

When Patrick Rush, journalist, single father and failed novelist, decides to join a creative writing circle, it seems a fertile time for the imagination. In the city of Toronto, a murderer is striking at random, leaving his victims’ bodies mutilated and dismembered, and taunting the police with cryptic notes.

Influenced by the atmosphere of menace and fear, the group begins to read each other their own dark, unsettling tales. One, Angela, tells a mesmerizing story about a child-stealer called the Sandman. Patrick, though, finds fantasy and reality becoming blurred. Is the maniac at large in fact the Sandman? What does Angela really know? And is he himself being stalked by the killer?

It is only when his own son is snatched that Patrick understands what he must do: embark on a horrifying journey into the unknown and track down the elusive figure known as the Sandman.

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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this extraordinary thriller from Canadian author Pyper (The Wildfire Season), Patrick Rush, a lowly TV critic for a Toronto newspaper whose life has been slowly deteriorating since the untimely death of his wife, struggles to remain employed while trying to raise his precocious young son. When Rush decides to join a local writing circle in hopes of pursuing his lifelong dream of being an author, he becomes obsessed with a horrific work-in-progress written by a would-be writer in the group, a possibly autobiographical tale about being haunted by a terrible man who does terrible things. Rush begins finding connections among the story's supernatural villain, a shadowy serial killer with a predilection for dismemberment that has all of Toronto living in fear, and his own unraveling sanity. Powered by an ingeniously nonlinear narrative and suffused with a tone thick with dread, this is easily Pyper's most ambitious—and absorbing—work to date. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"The villain leaps off the page...Pyper does an impressive job building suspense, offering enough narrative twists and turns to keep the reader nicely off balance.  Basing the experience of the novel in Rush's first-person perspective, he is able to capture not only the depths of the haunting and gradually mounting terror, but also the more routine aspects of the character's life... A strong and compelling read."
The Vancouver Sun

"A thumping good read, a real creep-fest."
Ottawa Citizen

"The Killing Circle is the best of a quartet of outstanding mystery-thriller novels by Andrew Pyper.  A riveting prologue, impossible to put down, quickens the beat and leaves you with a twist in the pit of your gut.  The twist weaves you through the story of fear, panic and resignation and it drives you onward, page by page, to the conclusion... a challenging and compulsive read that clearly demonstrates Andrew Pyper as a unique storyteller on the Canadian scene."
Hamilton Spectator

"Rising star [Pyper] doesn't disappoint in [this] fast-paced, funny thriller.  A terrific ride of a mystery...the story hurtles along.  Pyper is so good at dropping clues.  The thing is, he's also good at introducing so many twists that you'd swear his plot was inspired by a bowl of rotini."
Edmonton Journal

"Extraordinary...Powered by an ingeniously nonlinear narrative and suffused with a tone thick with dread, this is easily Pyper's most ambitious — and absorbing — work to date."
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

"Very smart, very scary, very good: once I started I couldn't stop. Fans of dark and witty suspense will love The Killing Circle."
—Peter Abrahams, author of Oblivion and End of Story

"Few are better at conveying an omnipresent sense of dread and horror bubbling just beneath life's seemingly mundane routines. The Killing Circle will keep you up one night reading and another four checking the locks on the doors."

“If Andrew Pyper scripted our collective nightmares, we’d all be dreaming and screaming like the narrator of his gorgeously written and thoroughly unnerving suspense thriller…. This is a terrific yarn.”
—The New York Times

“This is one great read: darkly lyrical and atmospheric, it's as haunting as it is gripping. Highly recommended.”
—Harlan Coban

“Frightening and action-packed.”
Los Angeles Times

“Spookily terrific...Great suspense and a great story. ”
Winnipeg Free Press

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Enjoyable Read Dec 14 2008
By NorthVan Dave TOP 1000 REVIEWER
I first came across Andrew Pyper when I read his novel Lost Girls and he immediately became one of my favourite authors. However as time went on I forgot Pyper and so I was pleasantly surprised to read an article of his in the Globe and Mail and discover this great Canadian author once more.

The Killing Circle is Pyper's fourth novel. Set in Toronto, the author's hometown, the book focuses on a group of amateur writers getting together for a five week period. As the amateur authors gather and share their writing, the city of Toronto is gripped by a serial killer. Could the killer be one of the writers? How do the members of the group feel about one another? And why do the members of the group feel a though they are being followed?

Pyper does a great job of starting the novel out slowly. Characters are developed over a series of chapters and suspense continues to build in a natural fashion so that when the book does come to an end, you're left saying to yourself "wow, I never saw that coming".

In short I liked this book and I'm looking forward to reading Pyper's other novels too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Spooky Thriller Aug. 8 2009
By Toni Osborne TOP 100 REVIEWER
In "The Killing Circle", we are plunged into the complicated world of ones inner self, facing all kinds of voices and fantasies. We are particularly invited into the mind of Patrick Rush, an aspiring novelist.

Patrick wishing to unleash his own creativity joins Conrad White's writing workshop, a dark and mysterious group that meet each week to share their secret tales. Suffering from a mental block and a lack of fertile imagination he becomes frustrated and envious of Angela's tale of the Sandman. He plagiarise her story and submits it for publication. Problems arise when an eerie similarity is discovered between the novel and multiple murders that are being investigated by Toronto's police force. Paranoia sets into the group when one by one its members disappear.

This is one dark, very complex and compelling plot with very disturbing moments. Fear and obsession is palpable, the first person narration brings out the sense of dread and horror and provides an insight into the mind of a murderer. This novel played with my mind, there were moments when I felt like abandoning it but new developments piqued my interest, I stayed riveted to every word in order to find out the killer's identity.

Even with its interesting characters and steady moving pace this spooky thriller, full of bogeymen may not be for everyone one.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I didn't care Nov. 13 2009
Even after reading 200 pages of The Killing Circle, I still didn't care what happened next. A terribly boring work !
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A satisfying thriller Dec 22 2008
By JustMelissa - Published on
The Killing Circle is a novel about the flagging success of Patrick Rush, a recent widower, single dad, and columnist at the city paper. The economy of print news combined with Patrick's indifference and bad attitude quickly lead to unemployment. Having always dreamt of writing the great Canadian novel, Patrick joins a writing circle, where he quickly discovers that he's really got nothing to contribute. When strange things start happening in Patrick's city and writing circle, he's drawn into a sequence of events that ultimately sets his life back on track - or so it seems.

Though that sounds like the complete story, in fact, it's just act 1 and I haven't spoiled anything for future readers. The story is told in two chunks - 2003 and 2007. The 2003 section almost entirely serves as back story. In that sense, the story takes some time to evolve. However, the writing and the characters make the time pass quickly. In 2007, we discover even more about the protagonist that makes us question his moral fiber, and from there the mystery takes unexpected twists and turns. Is Patrick the next victim? The prime suspect? An unwitting pawn in someone else's game?

On the thriller spectrum from Koontz (the good guys always win and live to see another day) to King (sometimes evil prevails), Pyper is much closer to King. Patrick is far from perfect and I didn't always find myself rooting for him to come out on top. Unfortunately, I didn't really identify or connect with any of the characters which made me feel oddly disconnected from the story. At the same time, Patrick also seems slightly disconnected from his own life so perhaps the distance I felt was appropriate.

In the end, I enjoyed the book, the unique plot (I didn't come close to guessing the ending), and the writing kept me interested until past my bedtime. I have added Pyper's previous books to my eventual to-be-read list, but I won't go out a buy them ASAP. Overall The Killing Circle is solid read that I'll be happy to pass along to fellow mystery readers, but not something that I'd highly recommend.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Circle Oct. 17 2008
By William C. Loehfelm - Published on
Pyper's new novel is the most blood-chilling, mind-bending thriller that I've read in years. The plot's as intricate as frost patterns on a winter window - you never know who or what to believe, everyone seems capable of anything - and yet Pyper never loses control of the story. The twists and shocks come hurtling at you but never feel contrived, illogical or forced. Too exciting to put down. This book is just brilliant.

Bill Loehfelm, author of Fresh Kills
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Thrilling thoughtful thriller Aug. 8 2008
By Tina - Published on
Andrew Pyper wrote a wonderful first book called Lost Girls. I remember thinking how proud I was that he was Canadian. So, of course, when his most recent book became available for review, I jumped on it. The Killing Circle is a "thriller/mystery/whodunnit".

What I like about Pyper is that you can never really categorize his books in just one area.In this newest entry, our main character Patrick Rush is an ordinary guy, who is down on his luck. His wife just recently died and somehow, his writing career at the paper seems to be on a downward spiral. He longs to write "that" novel, but somehow does not seem to have much to say. In an attempt to get some ideas and rejuvenate himself, he joins a writing circle - which at first glance appears to be a mistake - until he meets Angela. Angela is a mother, but she tells tales of this Sandman - a horrible man who comes into the night and does horrible things. Rush finds himself fascinated and returns, week after week to hear more. The only problem is - the Sandman appears to be real - a dark man has appeared and is re-creating the grisly scenes that are "imanaged" and "told" by Angela.

Rush gets this idea - should he offer to write the "true story" of these murders? and why do they sound so familiar? how can this be happening? It is very difficult to write this review without giving anything away. As always, Pyper does not use the standard thriller ploys to get the story moving along. We remain unsure of the intentions of ALL of the players until the end of the storyline. There are some serious twists along the line (one in particular that I really did not expect). I kept asking myself, is it possible that Rush has lost his mind?

Pyper writes with style, he often uses poetic storytelling that lures you into a different world - only to yank you right back out with a grisly scene. He is unlike any other writer of this(ese) genre(s) I have read.On some level Pyper is the Paul Auster of the mystery world. You start off one place with the storyline and you end up at a completely different place and you never know how you got there - except that the ride was exceptional.What a wonderful read
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark and mysterious . . . May 1 2009
By Clark - Published on
The Killing Circle by Andrew Pyper is a great book. I am lucky to have stumbled across this book at the store because it is well worth the money and time. The engaging and entertaining plot is one of the best that I have read in quite a while. Pyper installs a sense of creepiness throughout the story . . . it kept me reading on to find out what in the world was going on. I felt that Pyper was very accurate in delivering a psychological toll that the main character would be going through with an intense story such as this. This book is for anyone who enjoys reading dark mystery/suspense. I will be reading more of Andrew Pyper.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Killing Circle: A Novel Feb. 15 2009
By J. Lessl - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Excellent, and a very quick, engaging read. The first chapter clues you in to what you believe will be the end of the story. Not so fast, though, there are still surprises to come! I enjoyed the way this author wrote, reminded me somewhat of Stephen King's style. Wry witty dialogue, yet this IS a thriller, not black humor as some of the blurbs I've read would indicate. Clever concept, this "writer's" circle and the "story" that unfolds. I had no "oh no" moments, you know the kind, where the story takes a disappointing turn. I would recommend this book to any one who enjoys this genre and for those who are new to it.
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