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The Playing Card Killer

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  46 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Brian Sheridan may be losing his mind. It’s getting hard to know what’s real.
He’s plagued by dreams of women strangled with a red velvet rope, their corpses left with a signature playing card. And while awake, he’s hallucinating a strange man who appears to be stalking him. Brian hopes all this is driven by his sudden withdrawal from a lifetime of anti-anxiety medications.
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published February 14th 2019 by Flame Tree Press (first published 2019)
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THE PLAYING CARD KILLER was one twisty-turny thriller of a ride!

Brian is tired of taking anxiety meds as he's been taking them his entire life. He decides to quit them cold turkey and see what life is really like. Unfortunately, his panic and anxiety attacks return and they seem worse than ever. Also, he can't sleep without having terrible nightmares wherein he's strangling people. When Brian learns that the victims he's seeing in his dreams are actually being killed, his anxiety ramps up to a
Dec 15, 2018 marked it as to-read
This book is an ARC, uncorrected proof, due for publication February 2019.
Linda Strong

Brian Sheridan has been on medication for anxiety and ADHD for most of his young life. At the age of 20, he decides he's had enough of being drugged all the time. However, there are consequences.

First his girlfriend leaves him .. she's not willing to take care of him. Then the nightmares start. But are they really nightmares? He dreams of women being strangled ... he can see the women through the killer's eyes. Are they violent dreams ... or violent memories? He doesn't worry until he sees one o
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well, I can only say that I enjoyed every page of this!

You have a solid mix of serial killer thriller with a bit of supernatural influence.

Our characters are damaged, but so engaging – even the one you love to hate.

And I’m happy to say that the author surprised me both with what was really going on and with a terrific ending!

Very happy to have read this one.

* ARC provided via Net Galley

Michael Hicks
My review of The Playing Card Killer can be found at High Fever Books.

The Playing Card Killer, Flame Tree Press’ latest release from the prolific Russell James, is a solid and engaging serial killer thriller with a supernatural twist.

Brian Sheridan suffers from a spate of mental disorders, including chronic anxiety and depression. He’s given up on the court-ordered therapy he’s been sentenced to until his 21st birthday, just a few weeks away, and has flushed the prescriptions that keep his head
Glenn Rolfe
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
THE PLAYING CARD KILLER is a supernatural, serial killer, thriller.

I was a little off kilter at the beginning of this one, but once the story kicks into full gear, and Detective Weissbard is introduced, we are off to the races.
Good characterizations, solid plot, and a perfect ending. I find that a hard combination to beat.
Russell James delivers another good one!

The Scary Reviews
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
I really like this crime thriller and the characters. My review is posted here ---> ...more
J.H. Moncrieff
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's not easy to take the ol' serial killer story and make it new again, but James manages to do just that in The Playing Card Killer.

It's also not an easy story to read. When we meet the protagonist, Brian Sheridan has been beaten down by life, unloved by most, and is pretty much what one would describe as a "born loser." His life isn't a pleasant place to be. And then he decides to do what everyone around him thinks is a colossal mistake--go off the anxiety medication that's been keeping him o
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Readers of Crime, Thrillers, Mystery, Horror
Well, I have to say that I enjoyed every minute of this cracking crime/thriller!

I loved that, straight-away, Russell James introduces Brian Sheridan, who is currently on medication for anxiety-related problems. Brian decides to stop taking his medication as he thinks that he is living life through fog and haze which he hates. As a result, he is tormented by dreams of women being strangled, then left with a playing card tucked in their corpse. When he sees an apparent victim on the news, dead, Br
Frank Errington
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Review copy

Wow. First, read for a brand new author for me and I absolutely loved it. There truly is no greater thrill than finding a new writer whose work keeps you guessing from start to finish. OK, I can think of one or two greater thrills, but you get the point.

Brian is off his meds and having the most disturbing nightmares. He's seeing the murders being committed by a serial killer who's been dubbed the Playing Card Killer by the press. His girlfriend, Daniela, is less than happy he's gone m
Zoé-lee O'farrell
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019

Well, welcome to the cray cray for sure of Mr James! This book had me hooked from the start as we watch Brian trying to struggle with day to day life after coming off all his medication. The hallucinations he started to have were quite frankly mental and if I had been experiencing them, terrifying! I mean how would you cope if the “hallucinations” you were having were occurring in real life!

I mean to be visiting by Mr Jitters, erm no thank you, you can move along with that one thanks!! The descr
Caitlyn Lynch
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller, crime
The bond between twins is a fascinating thing, and not all aspects of it can be explained by science. In this gripping thriller, Russell James explores what happens when a pair of twins start out disadvantaged - by a mother who drank and took drugs while they were in the womb - and are then adopted separately. One of them, Brian, is the protagonist of the book and unaware that he ever had a twin. When he developed severe anxiety as a child, his adoptive parents took him to get help, and he’s bee ...more
Catherine Cavendish
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love Russell James's books. He covers horror in a variety of ways - sometimes with humour, with an Indiana Jones type adventure, sometimes black magic... Pretty much, you name it and Russell James has it nailed. Now, with The Playing Card Killer, we have an horrific series of killings. Someone has embarked on a murderous spree and Brian Sheridan can see through that deadly slaughterer's eyes. It's got so bad that he thinks he is going out of his mind. Certainly he is a man with a lot of psycho ...more
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I would like the thank Flame Tree Press for a copy of The Playing Card Killer by Russell James in exchange for an honest review. The book has a release date of February 14.

A thriller involving a serial killer, kidnapping, a character called Mr. Jitters, and a hint of the supernatural - the perfect book for Valentine's Day right?! Well maybe not but The Playing Card Killer was an exciting thriller that gave me some anxiety at parts. I don't often read thrillers because sometimes they can be a bi
Frazer Lee
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Russell James plays a killer hand with this thriller that goes straight for the jugular and never lets up. The psychological interplay between Brian, his “Mr Jitters”, and the titular killer is reminiscent of genre favourites ‘Scanners’ and ‘Dexter’. Readers will feel the physicality of certain chapters until they wince and the novel’s endgame is as taut as a velvet rope.
Armand Rosamilia
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I need to read more from this author. His breakneck pacing and character development are amazing and the twist in this one is fun as you see it develop. Going to find more from Mr. james to read!
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was quite an enjoyable book, the first I've ever read Russell James' book. I enjoyed his style of writing and the plot along with the twists and turns. I read this book in a couple of days and when I was not reading it I was thinking about it. I quite enjoyed it and I will look forward to more from this author. Thank you to NetGalley and Flame Tree Press for giving me the ARC in exchange of my honest review.
Nov 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Serial killers and mental illiness? I'm in! This novel was a new offering from Flame Tree Press and I grabbed it, even setting aside other books that I was reading to jump in.

I wish the writing lived up to my expectations. The story itself was ok; but the writing was somewhat uneven. For those who haven't read many serial killer novels, you're sure to find this an enjoyable read.
Christian - Curious Quill
Stars: 3.5/5

Review coming soon.
Ken Jensen
Dec 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a really well written crime/thriller. Reminded me of the style Robert Swartwood writes. It was fast paced when it needed to be and slower to allow for good character development when needed. There are some twists which I won't spoil. The main characters battle with ADHD and anxiety was well done. This seems very timely as it is an issue not well understood by anyone not dealing with any mental health issues of their own, hopefully it helps make people who aren't suffering something sympa ...more
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was quite an enjoyable book, the first I've ever read Russell James' book. I enjoyed his style of writing and the plot along with the twists and turns. I read this book in a couple of days and when I was not reading it I was thinking about it. I quite enjoyed it and I will look forward to more from this author. Thank you to NetGalley and Flame Tree Press for giving me the ARC in exchange of my honest review.
Gordon Mcghie
Apr 10, 2019 rated it liked it
My previous experience of Flame Tree Press books have been of horror tales and ghost stories. The Playing Card Killer is a crime thriller, an engaging murder mystery story.

The principle protagonist is Brian Sheridan. He is going to experience some unpleasant and vivid dreams which will determine how events in The Playing Card Killer will play out. Unfortunately Brian does not know this so when we meet him at the start of the novel he is making the important (if misguided) decision to stop taking
Cassandra MADEUP BookBlog
I’m really not sure where to start with this book, except to say that it was BRILLIANT! I adored it from the start, from the writing style, to Characters and plot, this was a wonderful story that kept me hooked throughout.

I adore Crime stories, but the ones that I love are the ones that have something different, a new perspective or way of grabbing the readers attention with new flair.

This had so many things going for it, if you enjoy Crime and Thrillers then you NEED to add this to your collect
Don Jimmy Reviews
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was delighted to be asked on the tour for this one, as Flame Tree Press are fast proving themselves to be one of my favourite houses, pumping out pure quality. This one did not disappoint.

The Playing Card Killer explores many different elements but is ultimately a crime thriller. Our protagonist Brian, has come of the medication he has been on since youth and is tormented with dreams in which people are being strangled. Then these bodies start appearing in real life, and we are left wondering,
Yolanda Sfetsos
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller, crime
Well, this was a Flame Tree Press ARC that I didn't know anything about, but as soon as I started I was instantly hooked.

When Brian Sheridan decides to stop taking the cocktail of medication that controls his ADHD and anxiety, he thought life would lose the endless haze he hates. He expected withdrawals, but didn't think the frightening personification of his panic attacks--that manifests as a creature called Mr. Jitters--would return. Or that every time he went to sleep he would start witnessin
Lesley Ann Campbell
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Brian Sheridan's life gets turned upside down when he decides to stop taking his anti-anxiety and ADHD medication. He enters withdrawal with a bang. The nausea, vivid dreams, and mood swings all take there toll on him, topping it off with his girlfriend walking out. Daniela gave him a choice, well an ultimatum, if he quit his meds, he would lose her too. Brian leads a solitary life, he spends most of time either at his evening job, or at home. Daniela commenting that even dragging him out to see ...more
Stuart West
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
James' The Playing Card Killer is a very good psychological thriller and horror hybrid. The characters are well delineated, the writing (as always with James) outstanding, and the situation the protagonist is thrust into is a doozy. To give away any of the plot (although, needless to say, it involves a serial killer) would be to ruin the surprises in store for the reader, and I for one am grateful that the huge whopper of a shocker reveal hadn't been spoiled for me. Yes, this jaded old reader fe ...more
Jan 01, 2019 rated it liked it
This is such a good premise, a man with mental illness goes off his meds and suffers incredibly vivid hallucinations, his girlfriend leaves him and then people start he connected/involved?

The writing is fast paced and it’s an ok read. However, I found it too haphazard in places to be a strong recommendation. I’d definitely read more from this author as, the elements that were good, we’re v good.

Thanks to Netgalley, Flame Tree Press and the author for the opportunity to preview this
Angela Maher
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: paranormal, crime
This is an intriguing book, a crime story with a bit of a paranormal twist. It's gritty and dark, but not to the point of being depressing. The direction of the story was never quite predictable, although it may have had more impact without mentioning the brother in the blurb.
I enjoyed how it wasn't a straight forward police procedural novel. The other elements made it a more unique and interesting read, but not all readers would probably agree. For me, it was a plus.
The ending was well executed
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a review copy from Flame Tree Press.

This was my second book I've read by Russell James. After reading this one I definitely want to read more from him. After reading the synopsis I knew I was interested, with a plot featuring a serial killer and guy receiving visions about the murders in his nightmares.

This book was great. It's a Crime/Thriller with a surprising twist. It has loads of character development and back story.
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Russell R. James was raised on Long Island, New York and spent too much time watching Chiller, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and Dark Shadows, despite his parents’ warnings. Bookshelves full of Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe didn’t make things better. He graduated from Cornell University and the University of Central Florida.

After a tour flying helicopters with the U.S. Army, he now spins twisted

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