The Four Stages of Cruelty by Keith Hollihan
A Novel

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Synopsis

Ditmarsh Penitentiary holds many secrets within its walls. A maximum-security prison, it contains every breed of hatred, self-destruction, greed, and regret. Its inmates aren't the only ones who grapple with these emotions. Under constant threat yet given absolute authority, the guards routinely cross the divide between law enforcement and criminality.

Corrections Officer Kali Williams takes pains to avoid the complicated traps of inmates and guards alike. Then a young inmate named Joshua comes to her for help. He claims that another prisoner has drawn an elaborate comic book, which holds a guide to the illicit underworld of Ditmarsh. The struggle to obtain the information encoded in its pages has been the cause of ever-increasing violence throughout the prison.

At first Kali can't take Joshua seriously. But soon afterward, the artist-inmate disappears completely. As she retraces his steps, she enters a labyrinthine world inside the prison with unexpected connections to the outside world. Along the way, she uncovers the most bewildering secret of all ...

Keith Hollihan's The Four Stages of Cruelty is a story of the mystery of human compassion, the twisted forms it can take, and the violence and redemption it makes possible.

 

About Keith Hollihan

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KEITH HOLLIHAN worked as a business analyst and ghostwriter before publishing his first novel. Born in Canada, he has traveled widely and lived in Japan and the Czech Republic. He now lives with his wife and sons in St. Paul, Minnesota.
 
Published December 7, 2010 by Thomas Dunne Books. 305 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Crime. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Four Stages of Cruelty

Kirkus Reviews

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After the book's artist shows up dead in the prison's shuttered, dungeon-like basement, a "wind chime" hanging from a door, Kali discovers that corruption permeates the place: The people she trusts are as suspect as the "barely human" individuals whose incurable addictions landed them there.

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Publishers Weekly

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Joshua Riff, a 19-year-old convict at Ditmarsh Penitentiary, puzzles Kali Williams, a 39-year-old corrections officer, in Hollihan's impressive first novel, a complex and atmospheric thriller.

Oct 11 2010 | Read Full Review of The Four Stages of Cruelty: A...

The Wall Street Journal

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In one of the odder asides in Dennis Lehane's "Moonlight Mile" (William Morrow, 324 pages, $26.99), Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro—husband-and-wife private investigators—pause in the midst of a fraught case to mock the lack of realism in blockbuster movies.

Dec 18 2010 | Read Full Review of The Four Stages of Cruelty: A...

National Post

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The Four Stages of Cruelty By Keith Hollihan Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s 304 pp; $29.99 Reviewed by Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall Keith Hollihan’s penitentiary novel, The Four Stages of Cruelty, is violent, unnerving and claustrophobic — much like the inside of a maximum-security priso...

Feb 25 2011 | Read Full Review of The Four Stages of Cruelty: A...

Bookmarks Magazine

Under constant threat yet given absolute authority, the guards routinely cross the divide between law enforcement and criminality.Corrections Officer Kali Williams takes pains to avoid the complicated traps of inmates and guards alike.

Jan 02 2011 | Read Full Review of The Four Stages of Cruelty: A...

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