Last year, I won a book off goodreads which was Jack Tate’s debut novel Causality . I was also approached by Tate to review his latest book It Cuts Both Ways. Jack Tate is an Australian author who specializes in writing thrillers about anti-heroes who deal with people who have wronged them in ruthless and bloody ways.
In this new book, the story centres around a young anatomy professor named Alex Rain. Alex Rain had a turbulent childhood where his father frequently beat Alex and his mother. Fortunately, the violence stops when Alex’s father suddenly dies. What people don’t know is that Alex could have prevented the death. His father’s death starts off Alex’s fascination with death and punishing bad people for their crimes.
In the midst of Alex’s dark dealings, Alex falls in love with a young woman named Claire Daniels. Suddenly, Alex has to juggle leading a normal life with Claire and fighting off the urge to kill. Unbeknownst to Alex, he is also pursued by Detective Belmont and Adams as they investigate the gruesome killings. They believe that victims were killed by a serial killer because of the ritualistic nature of the deaths.
The crimes usually involved the victims offending Alex in some way and ending with them dying in some graphic and disgusting way. Only the beginning process of the murder is shown before the novel cuts to the detectives examining the crime scene. I found Alex to be a likeable character despite his evil intentions, mostly because I didn't associate Alex with the crimes. In the novel, there is no part where Alex prepares or cleans up after the crimes or even thinks about them after he is finished. As I didn't really see Alex’s thought process through the murders meant that I didn't really think of him as a bad person.
The people murdered in the novel didn't deserve to be killed except for one man. The rest of the victims were inconsiderate people when Alex met them but that doesn't mean they deserved to die. In each killing in the novel, the victims are posed in a way to symbolized what they did wrong in the world. For example, one victim had their eyes cut out for not looking where they were going.
There are lots of autopsies in this book as Alex dissects bodies for class and the police investigate the killing spree. I believe that Tate must have done some research into anatomy and cadavers because of the details in the book. I was a bit uncomfortable reading through the autopsies but I know some might find it fascinating.
I enjoyed reading the book towards the middle of the story where Alex’s life starts to unravel. In the book, it is mentioned that Alex hears voices however his evil thoughts aren’t included into the narrative. It would have been good to have read Alex’s thoughts to get a deeper understanding into his character.
On another note, I liked the changing perception that people had about Alex in the novel. In the beginning, Alex seems like a down to earth and decent guy. To his students he is seen to be exciting and theatrical because of his interesting teaching methods. At the end of the novel, people describe him to be a creepy weirdo loner who they always suspected of being evil. I think that’s typical of people to say that they always had a bad feeling about someone after a terrible event is uncovered.
At the end of the story, I thought Alex’s downfall was too convenient however there is a plot twist that changes everything! I thought the plot twist made the story more dynamic and changed the perspective of everything in the novel. As a result, I think it would interesting to re-read it with the new knowledge as it brings a different feel to the novel.
I enjoyed reading It Cuts Both Ways. I think the book would suit people who like crime novels and thrillers. I don’t normally read books in that genre but I did like reading this book. I look forward to reading other Jack Tate books and seeing the development of his writing.