2010 Crime Recommended books

Rupture – Simon Lelic

Note: This book is released as A Thousand Cuts in the US

Rupture is set in a London comprehensive school, where a teacher walks into an assembly and shoots three pupils and a colleague, before turning the gun on himself. The book follows the young policewoman who is in charge of investigating the case. She quickly realises that the incident is not as simple as it first appears and sets out to find what motivated a quiet teacher to become a murderer.

The book begins with some truanting boys hearing a disturbance at their school; they sneak past the teachers and police they try to discover what has happened. The boys don’t actually see anything, but in many ways I found their observations more disturbing, as my imagination was left to conjure up the horror for myself.

I see what I had for lunch the day before, a pile of pork all glistening with fat like it’s been run over by a herd of slugs, just left on a tray in the sink. And there’s stuff all over the floor, lettuce gone soggy and brown, and peas with their guts splattered and smeared all over the tiles. I almost throw up.

I’d like to say that Rupture is a cross between Notes on a Scandal and We Need To Talk About Kevin but I think that would be unfair, as Rupture has it’s own unique voice. Much of the book is written as half a conversation, leaving you to fill in the police officer’s questions yourself. Some people may struggle with this writing style, but I found it to be very effective.

This book is gripping throughout and I was very impressed that by the end I had a great deal of sympathy for the murderer. I loved the way my initial opinions were slowly changed, leading me to question the way I look at crime and how often the perpetrator is often a victim too.

This book has everything I love to see in a book: fantastic characters, an impressive writing style, a compelling plot and a list of things to think about for weeks to come.

Highly recommended.


Have I persuaded you to buy a copy?!

There seem to be a lot of books about school shootings. Which is your favourite?

67 replies on “Rupture – Simon Lelic”

I wouldn’t say that you have persuaded me to buy a copy but that’s because I’m trying not to buy any new books; you’ve certainly made me want to read the book!

Rupture has been on my radar I think since you first posted about it at the end of last year. The campus novel certainly seems to have evolved into the campus-shooting novel and I wouldn’t say that I “enjoy” them but they make interesting reading; my favourite so far has been We Need to Talk About Kevin and I’ve been wanting to read The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb since it was published Stateside.

Claire, I’ve been wanting to read The Hour I First Believed too! Hopefully I’ll get round to it soon.

I’m sure this book will turn up in your wonderful library soon – I wouldn’t want to make you break your buying ban 🙂

Geez. It sounds kind of intense. I think it’d be interesting to read, but grim as well. I’d need to be in the right frame of mind before reading it. I may not go out immediately and buy the book but I think I’ll have review in mind if I ever come across it.

Michelle, I’m not sure I’d describe it as grim. It is so fast paced, that I didn’t have time to feel distressed by it. I was left feeling thoughtful rather than anything else. I hope you find a copy one day.

Not sure this appeals to me, despite the fact I read and enjoyed We need to talk, and Notes on a scandal. I don’t think I’d actively seek out to read something so violent. I agree with Claire about the evolution of the campus novel.

Verity, There is no violence in this book – the quote above is as violent as it gets. It is all implied violence, so I didn’t find it distressing at all. If you loved WNTTAK and NOAS then I am sure you’d love this one.


I just looked it up online and in the U.S. it is listed under the name, A Thousand Cuts, and is available March 4. I have definitely flagged this one as a future read.

Molly, Thank you for the information – I’ve added it to my post. I’m not sure I like the US title – it makes it appear much more violent than it really is.

Your review has definitely made me want to read this book. I love how you said you sympathized with the murderer towards the end. I felt the same way in We Need to Talk About Kevin. Although Kevin was a difficult character to love, he obviously had a lot of emotional issues at play.

Stephanie, I didn’t have that much sympathy for Kevin at the end of the book, but did have a lot for his mother. I hope you enjoy this book if you decide to pick it up.

You have persuaded me anyway to check out a copy from the library. I am always so leery of books that are centered on acts of violence, so I think I’ve only read one book about a school shooting. And it was Jodi Picoult. So not super memorable. But I don’t think I’ve ever read one set in Britain – I suppose because y’all have, you know, actual gun control. :\ This sounds intriguing!

Jenny, I think this is the first one set in the UK I’ve seen too – at least you know that it isn’t going to have gun control as a theme!

I haven’t read the Jodi Picoult one, but often think I should.

I hope your library gets hold of a copy soon!

The Jodi Picoult isn’t bad, but it’s – I don’t know, her books get sort of samey after a while. In fact after about two.

Can I ask (or will it spoil something) where the guy gets the gun? Because the impression I always get is that virtually nobody in Britain has guns. (Which, yay! Guns are scary and awful.)

I read this at the end of last year and really enjoyed it. The format of the interviews was very clever, each introducing a little bit more information. It was also a great exploration of bullying from all sides.

Well, I did enjoy We Need to Talk about Kevin and I would really like to read Notes on a Scandal after reading and enjoying The Believers, so I think this is a book I would probably enjoy. Which is funny, because I saw a review copy of it a few months back and panned it as something I wouldn’t like (I didn’t really enjoy the writing style on the first few pages)! Thanks for highlighting a book I can definitely say I would otherwise have never looked twice!

Steph, I can see why the writing style might put some people off – the writing in the first few pages is particularly harsh. I loved it from the beginning, but I’m sure you’d get used to it quite quickly. I hope that you decide to give this book a second chance and come to love it as much as I did.

Aarti, I think they should have stuck with the UK title too. Although I see why the US one fits I think it implies cutting with a knife – which doesn’t happen in the book. I think Rupture is a much better example of what actually happens.

You’ve definitely convinced me!

I love novels that make you second guess yourself even if what you end up thinking is morally questionable. Can’t wait to get my hands on it.

This sounds stark and gripping, although I feel as if having read Kevin and Vernon God Little I’ve read the school shootout story from various angles. As you say though it has it’s own unique voice so perhaps I shouldn’t be put off by that…

Novel Insights, This book is different – it isn’t really the same as the teenage shooting books as the crime was committed by a teacher. If you enjoyed Vernon and Kevin then don’t be put off – I’m sure you’d enjoy it.

As a former teacher, I tend to avoid books about school shootings…they just don’t hold much appeal. I did read Wally Lamb’s The Hour I First Believed, which deals with the Columbine shootings, and I still have issues with him using a real event as the basis for a fictional novel. Although the novel itself was good.

softdrink, I don’t think that the fact this is about a shooting in a school should put you off. This book is more about what drives someone to commit murder than the devastaing after effects.

This book sounds good, although it’s one I’d have to be in a certain mood for first. I get that way with intense books – they take a lot out of me, so I have to be prepared!

Five stars from you always gets my attention. I’ve read several books based on school shootings, and it is disturbing, no matter who the author. I will give this one some thought for Kindle purchases.

I wouldnt say its made me rush to buy it because you mentioned the fatal words ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’ though you also mentioned Notes on a Scandal so that nearly evened it out. Also I am not buying books and dont tend to buy hardcovers. The premise sounds fascinating and a new twist on such a tale.

Simon, LOL! I don’t think this would have the same issues for you as Kevin. I can see why you didn’t like that, but this has none of the deep thoughts about motherhood that I think you had issues with.

Would it be better if I said this was like a cross between a Sophie Hannah book and Notes on a Scandal?!

You’ve intrigued me to check my library for the book. It’ll stay on my radar for a while if I see it in stores.

Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland is about a school shooting and it very good. I’ve read the Picoult as well, and We Need to Talk About Kevin. I always think of them as a trilogy of sorts. Next on my list will be Vernon God Little. I’ll have to expand my category from a trilogy…

raidergirl3, I always think of the Picoult, Kevin and In the First Hour I Believed as being the trilogy LOL! I loved Generation A so plan to read more Coupland soon. I’m pleased to hear that you enjoyed Hey Nostradamus. It is now on my list!

Anything about school shootings tends to put me off initially, but I do like your description of the writing style, it sounds really interesting so that might sway me to read this.

Most school shooting books I’ve read have focused on the teenaged murderer, meaning there was always this subtext of “high school is h[…]l” or even just the “Teenager” (with a capital T) plot. I won’t say I’m jumping to read this (I’ve read a few too many school shooting books in the last year), but it does seem like a different take on the subject, perhaps because of the premise (teacher, not student) and perhaps just because I really like the quote you picked out. Very interesting review.

Biblibio, I think this book is different to the previous shooting books that tend to focus on delinquent teenagers, as Rupture focuses on society and who is to blame if everyone ignores the problems of another. Perhaps you should read this when the paperback comes out – that way you’ll have had a little rest from all the other shooting books. I hope you enjoy it when you do get round to reading it.

It is strange that there seems to be a whole genre of school shooting books. I think my “favorite” is “We Need to Talk About Kevin.” It was so surprising and interesting and got more in-depth than any of the other books I’ve read on the subject.

Your review has me even more curious. On the title- Rupture and A Thousand Cuts bring about very different pictures in my head, I wonder why change the US title. It’s not like there is some translation issue.

I combined your great review, with a couple of others and this is definitely a book I shall be keeping a look out for. It’s bound to hit a charity shop near me soon, I really begrudge paying full price for fiction books.

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