Monday, December 11, 2023

Book Review: Bad Men

By Becky Gulc

Bad Men is the first ‘feminist thriller’ by Julie Mae Cohen – you may be familiar with Julie’s other fabulous books including Where Love Lies, Dear Thing, and Summer People which are also definitely worth a read. So what is Bad Men about?

‘When it comes to bad men, there's only ever one choice...

Saffy has a secret. A secret that she is deeply ashamed of. It's not the fact that she's only killing the bad men. She is making the world a better place.

No, her secret is far worse than that. Saffy has a messy, inexplicable, uncontrollable crush. So while she's busy plotting her next murder, she also has the much harder task of figuring out how to get a boyfriend.

But if there's one thing Saffy knows, it's how to get her man...’ (Courtesy of Julie Mae Cohen's website.)

This book is hands down in my top three reads of the year and I can’t sing its praises enough! I do enjoy a thriller and this book just delivered on all counts. It is unputdownable from the opening disturbing chapter where Saffy is a child, right through to the unnerving conclusion at the end of the novel. This is a book that gripped me, surprised me, and even though it’s about a serial killer, it’s not dark in an off-putting way. 

We know early on (and from the synopsis) that Saffy thinks she is only killing those who basically deserve their fate and particularly in the opening chapter, you’d have a heart of steel to think what she did was wrong. So you do end up feeling for Saffy at least some of the time, but definitely not all! (I’m just going to say ‘dog’ here.)

When heiress Saffy starts pursuing a crush of hers (Jon, a true crime podcaster whose marriage has fallen apart due to being a workaholic) we start to see what lengths Saffy will go to get her man – with the narrative revealing just the right amount of detail to keep the reader guessing throughout about what is down to her, and what may not be. There were certainly twists and turns aplenty. It was tense, and I wanted Jon to run a mile but yet also wanted to see how it would pan out if the pair got together!

What Julie manages to do so well is keep the book so balanced – yes it’s dark in places but it’s also light-hearted and emotional too. It’s also very witty throughout! Julie, can we have a sequel please?!? Thoroughly recommended and I’m not sure this review can ever do justice to how great I found this book!

More by Julie Cohen:

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