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A Thousand Cuts

3.51  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,631 Ratings  ·  316 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,
Hardcover, 295 pages
Published March 4th 2010 by Viking (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 57 books — 235 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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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
May 29, 2012 Phyllis rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 30, 2010 Tony rated it really liked it
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
Apr 27, 2011 Jennie rated it it was amazing
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
May 26, 2010 Maicie rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 08, 2015 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The newish, oddball teacher at a London school enters morning assembly one day and opens fire with an old army revolver, killing three of the kids, another teacher and finally himself. The investigation of this horrific case is put into the hands of DI Lucia May, who discovers that vicious bullying is endemic in the school, that it's being perpetrated not just by but upon teachers as well as pupils, and that the headmaster, Travis, is content to let the pattern continue at least for the present, ...more
May 09, 2010 Taracuda rated it really liked it
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
Sharon Bolton
Jan 24, 2012 Sharon Bolton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Feb 13, 2014 Pascale rated it it was ok
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
Jul 04, 2015 Toni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, crime
I found this book impossible to put down. It took me through a labrynth of humanity on the road to figure out why a school shooting happened through the experiences of the woman investigator, Lucia, and those she interviewed. I found the perspectives of the other characters confusing at first--I wondered who was hearing these--but once I got the drift that these were what Lucia was hearing the pages kept turning and the layers of the novel got more complicated. I thought Lucia could have been re ...more
Nov 16, 2012 Paul rated it really liked it
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
Nov 28, 2010 Rachel rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
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
Nov 16, 2010 Jenn rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-books
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.
Alfred Nobile
Sep 01, 2015 Alfred Nobile rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a remarkable debut. It is a story about bullying. Teachers bullying pupils, pupils bullying other pupils. Male colleagues bullying female colleagues.Male teacher bullied by other teachers. The story is told from the perspective of different person in every chapter. A story of victims, and people who do not fall into the confines of their tormentors . It is a novel that gives a fascinating insight into the culture and victims of bullying. Makes the reader think and i think that is the pur ...more
Mar 03, 2012 Beadyjan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Angela Oatham
May 19, 2015 Angela Oatham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An incredibly gripping book which examines bullying from every angle. I never thought I would feel the slightest sympathy for a school gunman but as we learn more and more about Samuel and the other victims I did find myself appreciating the intense pressure that he was under.
My only criticism would be that on occasion I had difficulty working out who was speaking and what their relationship to the story was but that was fleeting. A though provoking read.
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
Nov 24, 2015 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating book, told in several voices, about a school shooting, done by a teacher. As we follow a female detective thru her investigation, we see a disturbing pattern of bullying at the school, and sexual harrasment at her work place, and how both of these are covered up by the powers that be. An astute social commentary, told in a clever and compelling way.
Mar 03, 2011 Patty rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 12, 2013 Kayla Dae rated it it was ok
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
Sep 26, 2013 Crabbygirl rated it really liked it
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
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
Dec 14, 2012 Chantal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Intriguing and frustrating writing 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
Jan 29, 2016 Liz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
4.5 stars. A powerful, realistic and very dark read about bullying (school, workplace etc) and the horrifying silences around it.
Feb 19, 2016 Hannah rated it liked it
I liked the topic that this book dealt with, but I didn't totally love the writing style or how some things were done in this book and how the plot moved along.
Bert Edens
Nov 17, 2010 Bert Edens rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 18, 2016 Aurora rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dies ist ein Buch, das man so schnell nicht aus der Hand legen kann. Obwohl es nicht unbedingt superspannend ist, ist es doch höchst interessant und regt auf jeden Fall viel zum Nachdenken an. Es ist Wahnsinn, was an dieser Schule, der zum Tatort für einen Amoklauf erkoren wurde, vor sich geht. Doch nicht nur da, denn Lucia May bringt etwas ans Licht, das man so niemals gedacht hätte.
Der Schreibstil ist super, so dass die Seiten nur so davonfliegen und den Leser in seinen Bann ziehen. Das Buch w
Sid Nuncius
Oct 06, 2015 Sid Nuncius rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book an absolutely riveting read. It is very well-written and the storytelling is extremely skilfully structured. We are told virtually at the beginning the details of the crime being investigated and who did it. The book is the story of an investigation into why the atrocity was committed, various people's views of the crime and its perpetrator, and who may have been culpable for failing to prevent it. I don't want to give away plot developments, because the way the story emerges i ...more
Mar 14, 2015 Vegantrav rated it it was amazing
In the opening pages, we learn that a teacher in a suburban London school has gone into an assembly at his school with a gun and shot and killed three students, one teacher, and himself.

The novel follows the police inspector, Lucia, who is assigned to the case. It would seem to be a fairly open-and-shut case: tons of witnesses saw the crazed teacher kill four other people and himself. But what was his motive? There is clearly no justification for such a killing spree, but what is the explanatio
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The Life of a Boo...: A Thousand Cuts by Simon Lelic 1 7 Jun 06, 2014 07:39PM  
  • Try Fear
  • Without Prejudice
  • The Replacement Child (Gil Montoya Mystery #1)
  • Invisible Boy (Madeline Dare, #3)
  • Far Cry
  • In the Shadow of the Cypress
  • Dark Dreamer (Dark Vista, #1)
  • Written in Time
  • The Devil's Touch (The Devil, #3)
  • Robin and Ruby
  • Flirting with Temptation
  • Terminal (Tweed & Co. #2)
  • Dolly Departed (Gretchen Birch, #3)
  • The Spy Game
  • The Cheating Curve
  • The Frightened Man (Denton, #1)
  • The Grail King (Druids of Avalon, #2)
  • Conflict of Empires (Eskkar Saga, #3)
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.
More about Simon Lelic...

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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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