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A Thousand Cuts

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  1,305 ratings  ·  284 reviews
A stunning debut novel that unravels the hidden story behind a school shooting

It should be an open-and-shut case. Samuel Szajkowski, a recently hired history teacher, walked into a school assembly with a gun and murdered three students and a colleague before turning the weapon on himself. It was a tragedy that could not have been predicted. Szajkowski, it seems clear, w...more
Hardcover, 295 pages
Published March 4th 2010 by Viking Adult (first published December 30th 2009)
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Hate List by Jennifer BrownNineteen Minutes by Jodi PicoultWe Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel ShriverGive a Boy a Gun by Todd StrasserRage by Richard Bachman
School Shooting Fiction
14th out of 37 books — 158 voters
Room by Emma DonoghueSo Much for That by Lionel ShriverOne Day by David NichollsLike A Fiery Elephant by Jonathan CoeA Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race by Robert A. Wascher
GoodReads I Read in 2010
15th out of 15 books — 7 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Blair
I literally read Rupture in one sitting: decided to start it at a quarter to midnight because I couldn't sleep, and finally turned the light off at 3am after turning the last page. So I don't need to point out that it's compelling. Ostensibly, this is a crime novel; the story of a man called Samuel Szajkowski, a young history teacher who one day carries a gun into his school and kills three pupils and a fellow teacher before shooting himself. It's also the story of Lucia May, the police inspecto...more
Tony
Lelic, Simon. A THOUSAND CUTS. (2010). ****. This is an excellent first novel from this author who has worked as a journalist and now lives in Brighton. It is both a psychological and sociological crime novel about a topic that is very current in today’s news – violence in the schoolplace. Samuel Szajkowski, a recently hired history teacher, walks into a school assembly with a gun, and murders three students and a colleague before turning the gun on himself. It was a tragedy that could not have...more
Jennie
Even with disturbing tales of student suicides evoked by ruthless bullying screaming from recent headlines, few of us are willing to delve into the unremarkable daily tortures behind the spectacle. Lelic brings the issue of bullying—in the school and in workplace, by children and adults—home with his unsettling, penetrating debut novel. Through his protagonist, police investigator Lucia, he asks, “Why was the onus always on the weak when it was the strong who had a liberty to act? Why were the w...more
Phyllis
I own this book and I have read it twice over the last two years. The description of the book says it is about a school shooting, but believe me it is about much more. I have never seen a book or any other medium do such a good job showing how widespread bullying is in Western culture; the book not only shows that bullying is widespread but it shows that bullying is accepted and expected because being strong and being able to take care of yourself is part of growing up; and part of growing up is...more
Taracuda
The premise is a cop investigating a school shooting, and in the course of her investigation, she discovers a bullying epidemic. The set up is topical, bordering on cliche, but how the story progresses really pulls you in. It's also set in England, which added some complexity to me as an American reader.

The story is told from both the investigating reporter's POV and from her reports as she interviews all the usual suspects. There are the bratty undisciplined kids, the jock of a gym teacher, the...more
S. J. Bolton
There's been a lot of hype about Simon Lelic lately, especially on social networking sites. Personally, I hate it when authors just don't live up to the hype; but I hate it a whole lot more when they do! Rupture, I have to admit, is truly excellent.

A London school is reeling in the aftermath of a savage act of violence. Apparently without warning, the history teacher walked into school assembly, shot three pupils and a teacher, before turning the gun on himself. For the school authorities and t...more
Maicie
May 26, 2010 Maicie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who 'enjoyed' "We Need to Talk About Kevin."
According to Wikipedia, Death by a Thousand Cuts refers to the way a major negative change, which happens slowly in many unnoticed increments, is not perceived as objectionable. The book takes the reader on a horrifying journey of a young teacher’s torment that results in his own death as well as three students and a colleague. Detective Lucia May is in charge of what her boss calls an open-and-shut case. Lucia is also a victim of bullying by the men in her department. She finds herself relating...more
Pascale
Lelic doesn't avoid all the clichés of the genre, like situating his stifling story in the middle of an oppressive heat-wave. In spite of such minor details, the narrative is forcefully propelled by a crafty mix of confrontations between characters and statements made to the chief investigator, Lucia. The major theme of the novel is bullying, shown in all its ugliness both in a school and in the workplace. It's a shame we never find out why the headmaster refuses to take action against the bulli...more
Trish
An outstanding piece of work. As direct and in-your-face as a Broadway show, and as searing and unforgettable. At times I found myself imagining the staging--I loved the author giving chapters to different voices. Even without knowing who was speaking initally, we are drawn in until there was no question who the speaker could be. Life in a corporation was never so baldly drawn, and one can believe life in a public corporation like the police force would reflect some of the insanity it deals with...more
Paul
Paolo Bacigalupi (The Windup Girl, Shipbreaker, The Drowned Cities) blows me away; when he commented on Twitter he was reading someone named Simon Lelic I made a beeline for the library. And by great good luck my local had a copy of A Thousand Cuts, Lelic's debut novel.

Ostensibly this is a murder mystery about a British police inspector investigating a school shooting. The shooter, a first-year teacher, fired upon students and faculty at an assembly, killing three students, a colleague, and then...more
Rachel
The writing style of this novel was very refreshing. Just about each chapter is someone else talking to Lucia, a homicide detective. Lucia's questions to the witnesses are families are rarely recorded in this novel, but it does not make it hard to follow at all. Leaving the authority- Lucia- out of the testimonials makes the novel edgy and raw. The testimonials seem more raw and emotional this way. I also liked how Lelic took a controversial issue in our schools today and showed us what can happ...more
Jenn
I read this all in one evening when I should have been doing something else. Excellently paced story...thriller? mystery? It's one of those stories where the voice of the narrator seems to shift a lot but it is the voice of several interviewees. That is the sort of device that I quite enjoy, though I know it can bother other people.

It takes place around an incident in a British public high school, where a teacher opens fire on a school assembly and kills three students, a teacher, and himself....more
David Hebblethwaite
Why would a teacher walk into an assembly at his school carrying a gun, and open fire? That’s the central question examined in Simon Lelic’s first novel, Rupture. Detective Inspector Lucia May of the Metropolitan Police has been heading the investigation into the shooting perpetrated by Samuel Szajkowski, an apparently nondescript young history teacher. Her superiors would like to think it’s an open-and-shut case, but Lucia’s investigations have painted a picture of Samuel as a man who was out o...more
Beadyjan
This isn't a book I'd have chosen for myself, I've just read it for a book group I've just joined and it certainly was thought provoking enough to generate discussion and controversy.

I can't really say I liked this book, it was just ok but it did have me quite gripped once I got into the quite difficult to follow, style of writing.

As the main narrator is a detective investigating a school shooting many of the chapters take the format of police statements as recorded, but it doesn't make it clear...more
Marion Moffatt
Book club choice. Slow going mainly because of the pedestrian monologues. Good to read for how not to structure a book I think. The detective pov is good but is interrupted all the time by the monologues which slow the pace too much.
Finished it now.

Didn't like the structure. There are a lot of narrative voices due to the device of using transcripts of tape recordings. It is very difficult for the writer to give a unique voice to each one so they blur.
The sexism encountered by Lucia was a bit st...more
Patty
Astonishing, intense and very very sad. This book is a story of what awful awful things can happen when someone is bullied. In this book what is most interesting is that the inspector investigating the incident is also being bullied by her own team. This is such a tough subject to read but this was done in an amazing manner. I really did not want to put this book down. My empathy for the characters was very strong. I imagine all readers will feel for them and the injustices they were forces to s...more
Kayla Dae
Not my cup of tea.

Half of this book was written in monologue form which I enjoyed but all of the other bits that really focused on the main character I did not. The writing seemed adolescent and telly. There was a lot of unnecessary information that didn't need to be written.

Also, I feel like the lead character was ment to be a strong female by the end but she was unbelievable weak and I didn't appreciate the way she reacted to things. It's like things just happened to her and she didn't do any...more
Crabbygirl
i loved this book!

a school shooting that is told in numerous, present tense voices - the story trickles out and the reader is hooked. the 'bad guy' is identified early on, but the backstory of his systematic bullying causes emotions of pity, anger, and even a moment of wanting retribution.

in fact, the whole book is about bullying - in schools and in the office. through sexual harrassment, and in positions of power. bystanders as adults as well as students.
it addresses physical bullying as in b...more
Sheila Beaumont
This is an unusual, original mystery, unlike any crime novel I've read before. Told in chapters alternating between third-person narration and firsthand accounts by witnesses, the story concerns a school shooting in which five people are killed. The case is investigated by the book-loving Detective Inspector Lucia May, who discovers a toxic school culture of cruelty, involving vicious bullying and psychological torture of both students and teachers, which is tolerated by the faculty and administ...more
Chantal
Intriguing and frustrating writing style...no speech marks, almost all monologues, with the occassional dialogue, yet the speakers are never explicitly named, which makes it very confusing.

The story of the investigation following a school shooting. Bleak, dark, helpless, frustrating and depressing are just a few of the adjectives that come to mind.

I almost gave it 4.5 stars because the topic of bullying in schools and the workplace is so important and terrifyingly portrayed, and the author doesn...more
Bert Edens
Actually just stumbled onto this one while looking for books at the public library.

This book was an outstanding read. There's a shooting in a school assembly in London. A history teacher shoots and kills three students and one teacher before turning the gun on himself.

Open and shut case, right?

Not so fast. As the story develops you have to ask, was this guy simply deranged, or was he plopped down into a school that promotes of culture of hate, bullying and even cyberbullying?

A must read for pr...more
Book Wormy
Rupture Simon Lelic
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This is not an easy book to read however it is well written and does get you thinking and questioning.

Set in a London school during the hottest summer on record this is the story of a school shooting and how the person who pulled the trigger is not the only one to blame.

The story is told by the police officer investigating the case and her interviews with those affected by the incident, what starts out as a simple open and shut case (we know who pulled the trigger)...more
Tracy
Even though this book was a little hard to read, I really liked it. It was only hard to read because it is set in England, and uses a lot of English slang. Once you get past that, you can really get into the story. It starts out with a school shooting...by a teacher. We then get the backstory. What led the teacher to do this? Is it as simple as one teacher going crazy and shooting students and staff at a school assembly? A police inspector doesn't believe so. We find out how the recent suicide o...more
Matt
Unsettling and intense, but not for the reasons you expect going into it. Just a great first novel, that feels like a blend of Giles Blunt and Tana French. The ending seemed a bit rushed or at least closed awkwardly, but the development of the story otherwise is done extremely well. Full of unreliable narrators, multiple accounts of the same event, and an extremely "anti" hero.
Emma Norry
Whilst unfortunately, I was never really convinced by the main character Lucia (I couldn't get any handle on her), that didn't really matter since she could actually be interpreted as a cypher for this type of story. For a first novel it was really enjoyable. The pace that the story unfolded at was gradual and skilful. The use of different voices was effective, and although at times not always 100% convincing, the ones that were successful, Felix's mother (who at first read I thought was Samuel'...more
Beth Kiesel
This book came up as a recommendation since I've read other school shooting books such as Columbine and We Need to Talk About Kevin(both of which I gave 5 stars.) I was hesitant to read "another school shooting book" but decided to give it a go on a lazy summer day by the pool. I finished it in one sitting.

I thought I had tired of author "gimmicks" but Lelic came up with a new one and I found it to be mesmerizing. He starts right out with a first person narrative of a police tape witness intervi...more
Donna Irwin
I thought this was an amzing book. An unusual style, telling the story from differentperspectives through witnesses, with the central character holding it all together. Should be read by all to see the effect of constant harassment in and out of school. A few lessons would be learnt.
Jill
Make no mistake about it, this is NOT just another school shooting book. And not just because it's a teacher that does the shooting. The way that Lelic tells this story -- alternating between first-person narratives as Lucia investigates and third-person narrative as Lucia's character is slowly revealed -- is really quite ingenious in that it allows the reader to become immersed in the emotions of the investigation and then step back to regroup and view the scene from a distance. And let me tell...more
Miss
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Silver
Reading this book made me really wonder how prevalent the problem of bullying/harassment both in school and in the office really is in England. I know these are really hot topics in the U.S. these days, and so I found it interesting reading a book set in England addressing the subject. The author seems to be conveying a strong anti-bulling message within this book, but he does so in a way which does not really feel like being preached to be creates an engaging and interesting story that also add...more
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The Book Addicts!: A Thousand Cuts by Simon Lelic 1 7 Jun 06, 2014 07:39PM  
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Simon Lelic was born in 1976 and has worked as a journalist in the UK and currently runs his own business in Brighton, England, where he lives with his wife and two sons.
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“He would be able to suffer what his son had suffered. He would be able to suffer and his suffering would for an instance displace his grief.” 2 likes
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