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A Good and Useful Hurt

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Mike is a tattoo artist running his own shop, and Deb is the piercing artist he hires to round out the motley crew at his studio of four. The last thing either expects is romance, but that’s exactly what happens when they follow their off-kilter careers and love lives into complete disaster.

When Mike follows a growing trend and tattoos the ashes of deceased loved ones into several customers’ tattoos, he has no idea that it will one day provide the solution—and solace—he will sorely need. And when the life of a serial killer tragically collides with the lives of those in the tattoo shop, Mike and Deb will stop at nothing in their quest for revenge, even if it means stepping outside the known boundaries of life and death.

Ink that is full of crematory ashes, a sociopathic killer, and pain in its most raw form combine for one of the most imaginative, haunting thrillers in recent memory. Full of wit and heart, A Good and Useful Hurt delivers the goods with the pain of a needle in skin.

293 pages, Paperback

First published February 21, 2012

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About the author

Aric Davis

20 books170 followers
Aric Davis is married with one daughter and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he has worked for the past fourteen years as a body piercer. A punk rock aficionado, Davis does anything he can to increase awareness of a good band. He likes weather cold enough to need a sweatshirt but not a coat, and friends who wear their hearts on their sleeves. In addition to reading and writing, he also enjoys roller coasters and hockey.

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5 stars
417 (22%)
4 stars
710 (39%)
3 stars
487 (26%)
2 stars
160 (8%)
1 star
45 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 218 reviews
Profile Image for Caitlin.
699 reviews70 followers
February 20, 2012
One of the best things about being an established blogger is that you get to read new books from authors you might not have known about otherwise. A Good and Useful Hurt was one of those kinds of books for me.

Honestly, it kind of blew me away and I didn't expect that. I accepted the book for review because Aric Davis is a body piercer and is covered with tattoos. Since I have many piercings and tattoos, I wanted to read what he'd written, particularly because of the body modification element. I wondered if he could write about what that's all about because it's not necessarily about getting a tattoo of a butterfly on your ass to make your boyfriend happy.

Happily, Mr. Davis does his best writing as he talks about the spiritual side of body modification - the memorial tattoos with ashes in them, the extreme piercings with a significance to the wearer and sometimes to a relationship, the energy exchange that occurs between client and artist, and the sharp difference between tattoos and art that happens to be on your body. For someone who's never been into these kinds of spiritual practices it should be an eyeopener.

Turns out the story is great, too! It manages to combine all sorts of unusual elements into a great story that I could not stop reading. I was very attached to the characters and I wanted to know how things turned out for them.

Mr. Davis has a great imagination and writes clear and honest prose, placing a tattoo shop at the center of his mystery. Best of all, the tattoo shop is a place you'd like to be filled with people you'd like to hang out with even though they might look weird and scary to you. For me it was a place I'd like to get tattooed.

Wonderful book and well worth reading even if (especially if) some of the subject matter is foreign to you.
Profile Image for Belladonna420.
22 reviews
March 10, 2012
I decided to read this book because it was about tattoos and the paranormal. I had no idea it was going to effect me like it did. I think I felt just about every emotion possible while reading this book and I was completely vested in each of the main characters.

I will note that I have several tattoos and have spent a fair amount of time in tattoo shops, so this could have a lot to do with my connection to the story, considering that this is the backdrop for the 1st half of the book. That being said, it's still a very good story in it's own right. And it's something different - a love story, a murder mystery, a thriller and a ghost story all rolled into one.

Without giving anything away, I will say that this book and the way it made me feel will stay with me for a long time. I've read books that have made me laugh out loud or feel angry or even cry, but I can't remember the last book I read that made such a impression on me, one that I know will be with me for as long as any of my tattoos will.
Profile Image for Melissa (Mel’s Bookshelf).
445 reviews286 followers
March 9, 2015
Wow, what an unusual book!

Mike owns a tattoo studio and begins to get requests to use the ashes of peoples deceased loved ones in the ink. People are very grateful for these permanent, very special reminders of their loved ones. Especially when strange things begin to happen...
And then before he knows it, Mike is investigating a serial killer!

Loved the characters! Loved the focus of tattoos, piercing and other fun stuff. Really interesting perspective.

I'm glad I read some reviews first and realised that this book has some supernatural themes or I would have got a bit of a shock in the second half... It really seems to sneak up on you.

Thought it was great. Bit of action, bit of drama, but of thriller, bit of romance and a LOT of weird!!!
Profile Image for ✨Susan✨.
900 reviews175 followers
November 23, 2014
This book was a happy surprise, good, believable characters, and a good mystery mixed with a bit of paranormal. A tattoo artist along with some old friends try to find a serial killer through some unorthodox methods of tattooing and ghosts. I will look for more books from this author.
Profile Image for Diane.
510 reviews19 followers
January 17, 2013
The book had an interesting concept. It rapidly switched from a slow moving love story to ghost story/thriller. I was completely unprepared for the second part of the book because it changed so radically and I had not read the full description of the novel prior to starting it. I tried to go with the flow of the story, but I admit that it was a little hard. I appreciate that he wanted the reader to feel a little shocked with the second half of the book, but I think it could have been done better.

I think it could have been a better book if the author had had a better editor. There was way too much story development with needless descriptions and then when it really got interesting it felt rushed with too little description. Plus, there were a lot of "rough" patches that should have been smoothed out, or removed all together. The author fell in love with his own love story and I think he enjoyed describing the life in a tattoo shop. He spent too much time on all this instead of expanding his focus to make sure the entire storyline flowed together. So, good, imaginative concept with not so good execution.
Profile Image for Elsbeth.
154 reviews5 followers
January 2, 2016
I liked this book even though there was SO MUCH I hated about it. Lots of depictions of the torture of women and then there was that thing where every "strong" female character in this book was deemed to be "crazy, but in a good way." I am so tired of that. SO TIRED. But I still liked this book which made me mad at myself. The premise was more interesting than expected.

Can we all agree to stop being faux-feminists that only write the manic pixie dream girl whose sanity is always barely holding on by a thread? Thank god there were some dudes in this book to take care of these "strong women." Ughhhhhhhhhhhhh.
15 reviews
June 21, 2020
You have to read this. You just have to read it!
Full of intrigue and suspense and a little bit of sadness.
Profile Image for Jessica.
68 reviews3 followers
November 22, 2013
I get very flustered when I finish a bad book. It's like that moment right after having bad sex; during the course of the nightmare romp you try to find a spark - anything! - but sooner or later you resign to the fact that it's just not happening and you lay there in crushing, mind-blowing disappointment.

I promised myself that I would only give 50 Shades of Gray 1 star. I believed that I couldn't find any book that could even touch the crap that was 50 Shades. This book is on the scale of 50 Shades of Gray awful...but I can't bring myself to give it one star, so two will have to do.

This book is all over the damn place and it's super short. It took me about the same amount of time to read this book as it did for me to read The Stress of Her Regard. I couldn't get into it. I was dreading reading it but I *have* to finish a book once I start, so I was stuck. A Good and Useful Hurt doesn't have a consistent story line. It starts off well enough but then it jumps from being a one thing and turns into something else.

The writing, what can I say about it. It's very elementary, very laid out. It laid out the way I remember how our stories would be laid out in creative writing in high school. This is a paragraph, this is the plot, blah blah blah, someone says something. There's no real creativity in the writing. The author has moments of being decent but most of it is sorely lacking. There's no real creation of time and space, nor relationships and emotion.

317 reviews7 followers
April 28, 2012
This is probably one of the most unusual books that I have read in my many years of reading. I waa curious about it because you don't see many books that have a tattoo shop as a central location. It combines tattoo artists, body piercers (the good guys) and a serial murderer (the bad guy - duh). The first half of the book focuses on the relationships between the tattoo shop personnel, as well as the relationships that are forged with their customers. The premise of individuals having a tattoo done with a tiny amount of cremated ashes from a loved one mixed with the ink was particularly intriguing to me. This goes a step further than cremains being mixed with gold or silver and made into jewelry; I find it touching rather than creepy. After the serial murderer appears, the book begins to delve a tad into the supernatural, but it's used in a very effective manner for the outcome of the story line. I don't know to whom I would recommend the book, due to its atypical content, but I consider it to be one of the more original and thought-provoking books that I have read recently.
Profile Image for Martinet.
52 reviews1 follower
March 5, 2012
This should probably go up to 3.5 stars. This was an odd book--didn't launch into anything supernatural until around the middle so I wasn't quite expecting it. That actually worked--it's very character-driven and I really liked the characters, so being able to get fond of them somehow made the supernatural element more plausible/palatable.
Profile Image for Nikki.
1,939 reviews55 followers
August 22, 2020
I actually liked the chapters about the tattoo parlor, but I'm just not into getting into the heads of psychopathic serial killers, so I had to stop.
Profile Image for Rachel.
128 reviews16 followers
August 30, 2021
Aric was my mom's neighbor. I met him after she passed away unexpectedly. We began talking after he offered to keep an eye on the house for us. We eventually began talking about writing. I asked where I could find his stuff. He recommended this title. I am so glad he did!

Though the loss of my mom was profoundly different than the loss experienced in this book, I found reading about unexpected loss and the emotions that come with it validating. I found catharsis in the story.

Being from Grand Rapids, I also thoroughly enjoyed recognizing the setting of the novel.

Thanks, Aric! You are fabulous!
Profile Image for Kristina.
104 reviews7 followers
June 6, 2013
So I gave this book 5 stars. Why, I have no clue; 4 stars just didn't seem sufficient. I found it to be incredibly different and unique, in a good way. I've read my fair share of mystery/murder/thriller books but this one was unlike any I'd read. There was a bit of civilian-playing-detective but only towards the end and in a way that is quite unorthodox. Instead, the chapters alternated between Phil the rapist/murderer, Mike the tattoo artist, and the clients who had had tattoos which ashes done. The police were not really involved at all, only in a secondary sort of way. The link that tied all three of these perspectives together -- or rather the event that sent these three worlds crashing into each other -- was pretty far in the book and rather startling.

Of course there are also fairly banal and standard reasons as to why I liked this book: interesting characters; tattoos and tattoo parlors; psychopathic serial rapist-murderer. The book really grabbed me from the very beginning -- I could scarcely put it down to go to bed, and when I finally fell asleep I had nightmares inspired by the book. My mood changes in tune with the book and I was seriously out of whack during the middle passages, when things were getting very strange and very brutal.

On a deeper level, Davis does not pull any punches. He tells it like it is, inserting curse words and violent replays of Phil's murders. And when you finally get the *THE EVENT* (or rather, *the explanation*) that throws the entire book for a loop, it's presented so matter-of-factly and innocently -- almost subtly -- that it took me, at least, a little while to figure out exactly what it meant. I was astounded, and without giving anything away here, I was pretty impressed with how Davis moved the book onto a wholly different plane. It was very clever, though unexpected.

Probably my favorite part of the book was the setting of the tattoo/piercing parlor. It was a very unique choice and one that worked brilliantly for the plot. It also worked well for development of the characters because tattoos and piercing are usually very personal and allow for stories to be told and not just stories of the clients but also stories of the artists. Especially when the clients began requesting tattoos with the ashes of their deceased loved ones. It also allowed me to reminisce about my own tattoo experience and how I agonized about the design and was a stickler for how unimposing and un-intimidating the parlor had to look. Mike the tattoo artist's ruminations about the power of the tattoo as an art form was extremely interesting to me. I chose my tattoo from a Google image because first, I had no idea how getting a tattoo even worked and thought I had to have my tattoo picked out beforehand, and second, because I simply liked the image. I had thought long and hard about what I even wanted my tattoo to be, so when I found an interpretation of it that looked simple and pleasing, I looked no further. On further reminiscing, I realize that the parlor I went to was very much like Mike's. It wasn't one of those strip mall places that has every inch of available wall space plastered with laminated placemats of available designs and neon "TATTOO -- OPEN" signs in the windows. The parlor had a discrete sign in the front and was on the second floor of a brick building. The walls were painted white with a few expertly placed framed paintings of dragons and other mystical creatures. It was a shop that elevated the tattoos to an art form, and I was so nervous (and naïve as well, I suppose) that I didn't even recognize the difference. So it really was a revelation for me and enhanced my appreciation for tattoos and the artists, who are in fact rightfully called artists. If I should ever get another one, and I am open to it, I will definitely use the artist at the shop that I choose as resource.
Profile Image for #ReadAllTheBooks.
1,219 reviews83 followers
March 26, 2012
I'm going to to explain what type of book this is without being spoiling anything, but if I do then forgive me. It's sort of a difficult book to review because it doesn't really fit into any specific category and in order to explain the tone to potential readers, I'll have to be a little more specific. No big plot spoilers that'd ruin the book for you though, so no worries.

I'll warn you right here and now: this book might sound like a thriller, but it's not. The bulk of the novel deals with developing the relationship between all of the employees of Mike's tattoo parlor as well as Mike's friendship with one of his customers. The serial killer aspect of the book is actually a rather small part of this book until its later part, so if you're looking for a pulse pounding James Patterson-esque cat and mouse type read then this isn't it. AGAUH focuses more on Mike, his relationship with Deb, and his connection with the people around him. I'll admit that I was expecting more of a thriller-thriller, so part of me was a little disappointed with this, but I was able to put that to the side because I did enjoy what I read. There are some supernatural themes in here and part of me almost wished that the book had dealt solely with this idea since it was nicely done and frankly, was a pretty cool idea.

This was slow to unfold, which might be good and bad to some readers. People looking for something quick and ZOMG-exciting to read will probably get frustrated (even though this *is* a quick read, I must admit). The slowness did work in its favor when it came to a certain big plot twist, which left me going "Awww... seriously? SERIOUSLY? Why did you do that?" It catches you off guard that way and helps prep for the more faster paced portion that focuses more on the serial killing and supernatural.

In the end this is going to be one of those quirky books that you're either going to fall all over or not. I have to say that I ended up really liking that this book was so different than many of the other books out there. It's a strange little read, but a good one and it was nice to read something that wasn't identical to so many other works out there.

(ARC provided by Amazon Vine)
Profile Image for Ancestral Gaidheal.
126 reviews65 followers
March 6, 2012
Why did I read it? It seemed like it could be an interesting story and it was recommended for those who appreciated Stieg Larsson, though, having read it, I am now trying to figure out why.

What's is about? Mike is a tattoo artist with his own shop, who is haunted by visions of Sid, his girlfriend who committed suicide. When he hires Debs to take on the piercing and body modification side of things, he starts to live again. Mike doesn't really question it when he receives a request from a customer to tattoo some of the ashes of his son as part of the tattoo of a baseball. When a serial rapist and murderer takes the niece of a friend, Mike has a decision to make.

What did I like? The writing style and very short chapters make it quick to read, but some of the subject matter made me a bit squeamish at times; a little less detail would have been fine with me, especially with the body modification, and the fate of one of the characters near the end. It's not an original storyline, but it approaches the hunt for a serial killer in an unusual way, exploring the spiritual aspects of tattooing and body modification along the way, in a manner I've not heard mention of before, making this book a curiousity for that alone.

What didn't I like? It cannot say why, but this story just didn't appeal to me, despite the promise of the synopsis and the reviews I'd read. I should like to make it clear, I read positive and negative reviews, yet I still thought this book would be worth a read. I put the book down several times, because I just did not care about the resolution of the main plotline, or anything else pertaining to the story. I can't say I was bored, just wholly disinterested at times.

The characterisations are a bit flat at times, though perhaps I was expected to sense a distance between the main character and his friends. Mike seemed such a loner really. Personally, I just couldn't connect with any of the characters in the book.

It's not a bad book, not a great book, it adds a nice gimmick to a done-to-death* genre, but ... it just didn't grab me.

Would I recommend it? Not really, no. I'm not sure to whom it would appeal.
Profile Image for Kathy.
172 reviews2 followers
March 23, 2012
This book was not at all what I expected. I really enjoyed the story (except some of the violent bits-sorry Aric, I am such a fragile and delicate blossom). I didn't think I would based on the review in Library Journal.

It is the story of a tattoo artist Mike who lives and works in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He owns the shop he works in and has a buddy Lamar who helps him. He meets piercer Deb who also enters his personal life until.... [SPOILER ALERT]

she is brutally murdered. Mike and another character figure out how to find the killer (a serial rapist/murderer)but it is very unusual. He gives himself a tattoo using ink mixed with ash from the cremated remains of his loved one. Other tattoos also allow him to connect with all the victims to nail the guy. Then he "tattoos" the killer so the women can haunt him. Which they do-right on to the end.

I was surprised taht I liked the story. I guess it is not so removed from the crime drama I usually read.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Tricia.
250 reviews10 followers
February 25, 2012

A Good and Useful Hurt
By: Aric Davis

I really liked this novel. It has a unique story and it is told thru good writing, descriptions and endearing characters.
A Good and Useful Hurt takes place in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Most of the comings and goings revolve around a tattoo parlor. The character Mike owns the place and lives upstairs. He meets Deb and hires her as a body piercer. They fall in love. While this is going on we hear about Phil, a brutal serial rapist and murderer.
At the time Mike gets an odd request to tattoo someone with the ashes of their son. Mike complies and sets off the novel with a little bit of a supernatural feel. It isn't over the top; it was actually quite believable to me. I really loved this aspect of the book- it was really different. I love that!
Both stories intertwine and make for a really good suspenseful and mysterious read.
Profile Image for Sally Moore.
52 reviews1 follower
July 22, 2014
I struggled with whether to give this murder mystery/super-natural/ghost story novel 3 or 4 stars. The story was actually very well crafted and a page turner. I was fascinated with the paranormal aspect of the story telling and I loved most of the characters. If you could spend time with your loved ones again in your dreams, would you get a tattoo with their ashes mixed in the ink in order to do so?

That said, getting inside the mind of a rapist/serial-killer was heavy stuff and too much for me. I did not want to "know" this character that well. Thankfully, those chapters were short and most of the book was centered on Mike & Deb, both whom I grew to love and rooted for.
Profile Image for Wendy.
Author 10 books14 followers
March 4, 2012
There is a lot to like about this book. The writing isn't always the smoothest but despite the occasional clunky parts its heart and originality win out. It isn't every day that you can sit down to read a romantic supernatural thriller and get some great insight into the world of body modification, piercing and tattooing to boot. It is about big things: love and death and art and life and friendship. And it is about the little moments too. It was well balanced and had some interesting characters. It was a relatively quick read and I thought it was worth the time.
Profile Image for Amie Cross.
127 reviews23 followers
April 16, 2012
Awesome read! This book is about a tatoo artist who, at the request of one of his customers, starts doing tatoos occasionally of thier deceased loved ones mixing thier ashes into the ink of thier tatoos. In a paralel story a serial killer is terrorizing the city and murdering women.
At some point while reading this book it changed from a good story and an interesting read into something much more. It sort of freaked my shit out. Awesome read!!!
Profile Image for Andrew Lennon.
Author 83 books261 followers
June 4, 2015
That was really, really good!
I listened to the audiobook for this, it actually came free with the Kindle Unlimited download.
This is a brilliant read. The story itself is very unique and really quite gripping.
It had me from the start and didn't let go till the end.

Well worth a read, check it out.
Profile Image for Claire.
27 reviews1 follower
March 2, 2012
An interesting plot, for sure. The writing lacked depth for me, but it was a quick and easy read.
Profile Image for db.
943 reviews
June 15, 2014
Very interesting. Gave me some insight into the tattoo culture. Lots of twists and turns in this mystery novel.
Profile Image for Anna-lena Schmitz.
238 reviews32 followers
May 2, 2015
I didn't know what to expect, in the end it was a very thrilling and interesting book. I liked the whole tattoo shop idea especially.
Profile Image for July.
302 reviews6 followers
November 17, 2017
I enjoyed the book once the plot got going, BUT it took 75% of the book before that actually happened. Everything up to that 75% was meandering. I get that the author wanted to establish the main romantic relationship, but including all the details of what they ate during one date was a bit excessive. Then other parts of the relationship were just plain skipped over. It was very uneven and unfocused.

That being said, I found the characters engaging enough that I didn't want to stop reading (listening) completely. I have several piercings and tattoos so I found those aspects of the novel pretty enjoyable. Also, the plot was good once it hit its stride.

The narration of the audiobook was good. I had no trouble being able to figure out who was speaking. I think I might have DNFed had I been reading another format. The narrator's excellent performance kept me listening even when I had no idea where it was all going (and not in the good suspenseful way).
Profile Image for Rachel Franks.
3 reviews
October 6, 2020
This is one of those books I wish I could go back and read again for the first time. I was nowhere near prepared for the range of emotions this book was going to make me feel. The way that this story switches from realistic fiction to magical realism/supernatural can, apparently, put some people off, but I thought this was extremely fitting for the shift in the story and the change in direction that the main character takes. The depictions of grief are raw and honest; Davis makes me feel what the characters feel, so deeply in fact, I don't think I have ever been emotionally effected in the same way by another book, which is saying something if you know me... I read it for the first time when I was 19 and again when I was 21. I am now 25, and I think it might be time to reread!
Profile Image for ArrianeReads.
244 reviews1 follower
Shelved as 'dnf'
June 28, 2021
DNF @ 48%

This book was so bad, I don't know where to begin.

You can absolutely tell it was written by a guy. The female characters are awful - either gossipy and 2 dimensional, or manic-pixie-dream-girl, with absolutely no in-between. None of it makes any sense, and it goes off in weird places, drifting into strange B-plots that come out of nowhere and don't seem to have an purpose. I couldn't sit through any more of it, and I was disappointed, because I really love stories about tattoo shops and that whole lifestyle. But no, this wasn't it.

Would not recommend.
Profile Image for Jool.
925 reviews4 followers
April 26, 2018
What an intriguing plot, which made me if this would work in real life. (Wishful thinking). At first the chapters jumped around a bit to seemingly unconnected people and activities. The author soon pulled things together so we could see how each affected the other. I really enjoyed this book. Suspense, imagination and emotion all rolled together to make this a page turner.
I always enjoy Aric Davis books.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 218 reviews

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