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Severed - Simon Kernick

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Author: Simon Kernick / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 12 May 2011 / Genre: Crime & Thriller / Subcategory: Thriller / Suspense General / Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd / Title: Severed / ISBN 13: 9780552164344 / ISBN 10: 0552164344 / Alternative EAN: 9780552153133

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    9 Reviews
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      06.04.2010 20:12
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      A rollercoaste of a thriller by Simon Kernick.

      One night stand...
      One dead girl...
      One bad day...

      The above words on the front cover of this thriller by Simon Kernick were enough to make me pick up this book and take a closer look. It certainly sounded promising enough, so I began to read.

      Tyler wakes up one morning and finds himself in a strange room on a strange bed.
      He hasn't a clue where he is or how he got there. The only thing that isn't strange to him is his girlfriend lying next to him.
      The only problem is, the bed is covered in blood and his girlfriend is dead. What is confusing, as well as sickening, is his discovery that she has been decapitated and her head is missing.

      Stumbling out of bed, Tyler notices a TV and DVD player in the corner of the room, with a cardboard sign telling him to "press Play".
      Tyler is horrified to see himself on the film killing his girlfriend as she lies tied to the bed.
      He then realises that it is not actually him on the film carrying out the killing, but someone cleverly disguised to look like him, complete with identical distinguishing marks on his body, but wearing a fetish mask.

      Tyler receives instructions to deliver a briefcase to a London address. If he carries this out successfully, he is told all evidence will be destroyed that will otherwise link him to the murder of his girlfriend.

      Tyler has clearly been set up. But by who? And why?
      Over the next 24 hours, Tyler is going to find out the answers to those two questions.

      'Severed' certainly promised to be a good thriller. The story takes place over 24 hours and the action is pretty much non- stop from the first page.
      The good thing about this was I was quickly drawn into the story right from the first page, which is something I personally find appealing when beginning to read a book. If by the end of the first couple of chapters I am not becoming absorbed in the story, then my interest starts to dwindle away and it becomes a struggle to read any further.

      The story begins with Tyler waking up to his horrifying discovery and from then on this really is a rollercoaster of a read as Tyler sets out not only to obey the instructions given to him, but also to try and uncover exactly why he has been chosen to do this and who is responsible for the brutal murder of his girlfriend.
      The writing style is fast paced and it is certainly an exciting book to read. Indeed I found myself racing through the pages as events unfolded.

      It quickly becomes clear that there is a lot more to this than meets the eye and Tyler not only has to confront a few people from his past but also has to face up to a few home truths about himself.
      Nobody is who or what they seem to be, or at least that is how it appears to be. I found myself becoming suspicious of every character in the book, from Tyler himself to his girlfriend and friends. It makes for an engaging read.

      Speaking of characters, apart from Tyler, we are introduced to a few people from his past as he served in the Army, taking part in the conflicts of Northern Ireland, Bosnia, the first Gulf War and Afghanistan. Kernick doesn't spend much time on character description apart from the main character of Tyler. Even then, we don't get to know much about him, which I think is what adds to the suspense and not knowing if anyone can be trusted.

      There are some flashbacks to his time as a soldier which provide an insight into how he came to know certain characters in the story. This made for interesting reading as you realise there is a bond that serving soldiers share and how years later in civilian life, that bond remains. Or does it? Tyler certainly likes to think so, but it seems that some people don't exactly share his feelings.

      There is also a character referred to simply as 'The Vampire', a silent and lethal killer who is feared throughout. Although referred to at various points throughout the book, I did begin to wonder if The Vampire actually existed or not. That's the good thing about this book : it keeps you guessing!

      The story has quite a few twists, including one quite big one and the suspense remains throughout, which again makes for exciting reading. The only problem I had was that some of it seemed a little far fetched. It was a little like watching one of those action hero films where the hero comes through scrape after scrape whilst hurtling from one life-threatening situation to another. This is certainly the case with Tyler. I did think on more than one occasion whilst reading that he should be dead or seriously wounded.

      I also found I had to remind myself several times that it was still the same day! There are so many situations and the pace seems so fast that it feels like a few days have elapsed. I found I was struggling to comprehend how so much could take place all in one day.
      Nothing spoiled my enjoyment of reading this book however, even if it did seem unbelievable at times. I do enjoy a thriller with a few twists and this was the main advantage of the book for me, as I had no idea what would happen next and did not realise who was behind it all until near the end.

      One thing that puzzled me however, is the blurb on the front of the book which I mentioned at the beginning. As it states, "One night stand... one dead girl..." What puzzled me is there is no "one night stand" if you take it to mean that they are referring to Tyler's girlfriend as they are in a relationship, so it is no one night stand!
      Another thing I noticed was that it states on the back of the book : " The phone rings, and a voice tells you to press play on the room's DVD machine". Again this is inaccurate as there is no phone call whilst Tyler is in the bedroom. He is directed to press play by a cardboard sign placed upon the DVD player!

      Of course these are minor gripes, but I think as the blurb on a book is often the major factor in your decision to read it, at least it should contain accurate information.

      If you enjoy a good thriller with plenty of twists then I can recommend this book, even if it is a little far-fetched, it is pure escapism.
      I found this book very easy to read and the story flowed well from start to finish. I raced through it in two sittings and will be looking up more of Simon Kernick's work.

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        26.03.2010 11:57
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        An okay read if you're into crime and thriller novels

        I was given this book recently to read with the promise of a gripping story. I don't normally read crime or thriller novels, and I'd not actually heard of the author or read any of his other books, but with an open mind I gave it a try.

        The story is written from the point of view of a guy named Tyler living in London, who at the beginning of the story wakes up groggily in a room he doesn't recognise, and on a bed covered in blood. For next to him on the bed is a female body which has its head severed off. He recognises the corpse as the body of his girlfriend Leah and he panics, and wonders what the hell happened. Then he gets a phone call from a mystery guy, asking him to play the DVD which is in the room, and he watches it and sees a film of himself killing her. He is confused as he has no recollection of what happened in the last day, and cannot understand what would make him kill his girlfriend. Someone certainly has it in for him, and he must find out who and why.

        The mystery bloke on the phone tells him he needs to deliver a briefcase for him to the seedy depths of East London, otherwise the DVD of Tyler killing his girl will be sent to the police. The briefcase is locked and is apparently bugged so it will explode, so Tyler is unable to tamper with it to find out what's inside, but is nonetheless curious. Tyler sole purpose in life now becomes finding out who this mystery phone dude is, why he killed his girlfriend, what is in the briefcase and why he is being blackmailed.

        Tyler is a former soldier, and well equipped to deal with the scary and dangerous situations he comes across on his journey, and the story is certainly fast paced and gripping as he squirms himself out of near fatal situations to continue his quest. He has some other-ex soldier acquaintances who become involved in the tale, as well as Tyler's ex wife who is a lawyer and a feisty blonde girl from a brothel. The characters themselves are well researched and have interesting background stories. We learn a bit of Tyler's history in the army, as this information is key to the story. It is quite a grisly story in parts, and Tyler finds himself dealing with much more than what he expected.

        I thought the book was interesting enough to finish (trust me, I have had to abandon books halfway as I just couldn't take it!) and it certainly was gripping but I wasn't left finding myself excited by the book as I hoped to be. Personally, I thought the story was quite American sounding and somehow didn't suit a British book, as I just couldn't see East London being the venue for such a Hollywood movie type chase. Maybe that's me being small minded? The book has some cliché catchphrases in it that Tyler uses, which I found a bit annoying, plus the nail in the coffin for me was that I pretty much guessed the ending. Dagnamit!

        The book is well written in general though, and Kernick certainly knows how write page turners, as at the end of each chapter, I was quite intrigued to see what happened next. I wouldn't let this book put me off reading Simon Kernick's other work, as I see he has a number of other books such as Relentless which are supposed to be good.

        I have mixed feelings about this book, and dangle somewhere in between liking it and disliking it, but if you like crime thrillers, you might as well give this one a go, as it's definitely interesting and may be your cup of tea.

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          24.03.2010 23:50
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          A great read

          This is the 2nd book I have read of Simon Kernick's before (the first one I read was called 'Target' which I have reviewed). After throughly enjoying the first book, I was eager to read another one.

          ~The Plot~
          Tyler wakes up covered in blood, and in a room that he doesn't recognise. He then notices a lump under the bed covers, and when he looks underneath, he sees the decapitated corpse of his girlfriend, who he recognises due to her tattoo. Obviously in a state of panic, he tries to remember what has happened for him to end up being in the room, but he can't remember anything from the last 24hours, not even how he met up with his girlfriend.

          Its then that Tyler notices a DVD player and TV, with a note propped up against it asking him to play the DVD. Still trying to figure out what has happened, and very scared, he starts to watch the DVD, and sees himself killing his girlfriend and then finishing the job by decapitation.

          This book is all about trying to find out what happened to Tyler, and why, or even if, he committed the murder. However, Tyler's trail ends of up with the murder of more people, some at his own hands, and some from others. However, as well as trying to find out the truth, the person who made the DVD has ordered Tyler to do a mission for him - deliver a briefcase. If only it was as simple as it sounds...

          ~My opinion~
          The other book I had read by Kernick was very fast-paced, and this was exactly the same. I still don't know how he managed to cram so much into one book! From the first page of being introduced to Tyler and finding out that his girlfriend has been murdered and decapitated, to the very last page of finding out why everything happened to him as it did, I was hooked, and it only took me 2 days to complete the book!

          Even though I have only read 2 of Kernick's books I will definitely be reading more of his work, and hopefully his other books will be as well-written, fast-paced and intriguing as this one. This book definitely does not disappoint, and is a great read for anyone who likes crime and thriller books.

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            07.12.2009 07:25
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            Could have been so much better with just a little more detail

            Its not every morning that you wake up in a strange bed next to the decapitated corpse of your girlfriend. After a start like that you know its not going to be a good day for Tyler the man with the misfortune to have a headless girlfriend in a strange place with no recollection of getting there or more importantly of beheading her which is apparently what happened if the evidence is to be believed.

            Every turn of the page brings with it yet another unexpected twist in an action packed plot line in a novel that leaves you wanting more and delivers in bucket loads, keeping on delivering right up until the very last page of the final chapter. OK so its not fantastically written but the pace alone is enough to allow you to overlook the somewhat ridiculous assumptions that are made by a man under pressure with the ability to leapt from a burning building like Spiderman yet keep on going despite having most of the London Metropolitan police force hot on his heels.

            The books is jammed full of fast flowing action and makes compulsively addictive reading. Before you know it 475 pages have passed by in a blur. It lacks the detail that makes most books of this genre work but the speed at which things occur make up for that.

            Far more could be made of some of the gorier concepts as these seem almost wasted. With a little more effort this could be a phenomenal book instead of just a good one.

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              21.11.2009 11:14
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              Brilliant book from a great writer

              This is the great novel from Simon Kernick, this is the second book by this author I have read and I must say I found it totaly enthralling.

              Dan Tyler is the ex soldier with an aparantly great life, he owns a car sales room in Whitechapel and has a nice little house although he struggles with relationships and as a result of this lives alone at the moment.
              Badly injured on a tour of Northern Ireland and he has the scars to proove it.
              Tyler has recently met up with a beautiful young girl named Leah and Tyler thinks she is definatly the one he will grow old with (although he seems to have this thought on a regular basis)
              He has only known Leah for a few short weeks but Loves her already.

              When Tyler wakes up next to a headless corpse in a strange house he is thrown into a world of crime and violence which will lead him into many dangerous situations over the next 2 Days.
              He will come to realise His past has come back to haunt him.

              This is a great action packed book which you will find hard to put down, you will quickly relate to the books main character.
              A great thriller with a cracking plot, 316 pages of pure adrenalin

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                06.06.2009 13:51
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                The next time I see a Simon Kernick novel I will definitely pick it up

                This is the first Simon Kernick novel I read, lying by the pool (for far too long, in the scorching sun) on a recent holiday. The opening of the book leaves you begging for the conclusion. Its very tempting to jump to the last pages to find out what is going on.

                A chap called Tyler wakes up in an unknown location next to his girlfriend of three weeks, brutally multilated and headless. He has a complete memory block of the previous day, doesn't remember meeting up with her etc and wonders how this has all happened. He finds a DVD in the room with a note saying 'Tyler, Play me'. When he plays the DVD it shows him killing his girlfriend. He doesn't remember anything and knows he needs to get to the bottom of it.

                It is written as Tyler in the first person, which i think makes a book easy to read, more believable, as if you are him. The plot twists and turns are so exciting and gripping it is hard to put down.

                Its quite violent, so not one for the faint hearted by a long shot.

                Not going to give the plot away. You will not be disappointed during the beginning and middle pages. The ending is a little abrupt and you want to know what he does with the remaining characters next. But I guess that is the point. It is definitely worth a read.

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                  27.01.2009 20:12
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                  Great holiday read for action thriller fans

                  I read one of Simon Kernick's books last year called Relentless and really enjoyed it and I got a Smiths voucher for my birthday and saw he had this one out in paperback and so bought it straight away.

                  The book is about a man called Tyler who wakes up in a room which he doesn't recognise in a bed covered in blood. When he looks under the covers he finds his girlfriends body with its head cut off lying next to him. He cannot remember the past 24 hours. In shock he looks around the room and propped next to the DVD player is a note saying Tyler, Play me. When he plays the DVD it shows him killing his girlfriend. While his mind is whirling from this he doesn't hear the person approach him who then electrocutes and drugs him. This all happens in the first two chapters and 28 pages.

                  When he awakes he is in a car and a mobile rings and tells him to take the briefcase he has been supplied and to go to an address in London and collect another briefcase. Then he opens the briefcase in his car it contains a lot of cash and a gun. He realises he has to do this task if he is ever to find out who killed his girlfriend and avenge her death.

                  The book is extremely fast paced from page one which draws you in and makes it hard to put down, I read it in a few days. It is written in 1st person so you are in Tylers mind and can see what he is thinking all the time. The plot twists and turns and you never really know until the end who is the person behind the killing.

                  Tyler is the main character and you get a bit of background about him, that he was in the army and meet some of his army buddies and his ex-wife which gives you a bit more understanding about him and why he may have been chosen to do this task. You don't learn everything about him as the story is just too fast to get that involved in characterisation but you learn what you need to know to make you back him and want justice for him and make him a believable character. As it is written in 1st person you get to feel his adrenalin which keeps you reading on and share his suspicions as to who is involved in the plot which makes him and you the reader suspect even the normally unsuspectable, and keeps you guessing throughout.

                  From having read one of his previous books I knew to suspect a fast pace (or I hoped anyway) and this did not disappoint. I read the last one on a long train journey and it made it go much faster, it is most definitely a top book to read when on a long journey or on holiday so you can really get into it and not have to keep putting it down. I also knew to expect a fair bit of death and violence and so if your squeamish then this probably isn't one for you, but then you probably knew that from my description of the book.

                  The author, Simon Kernick, it tells you at the beginning researches thoroughly and has extensive contacts in the police force which has been built up over more than 10 years to make the books more authentic.

                  Severed is published by Corgi and 474 pages.
                  I bought from WHS for £6.99 but available on Ebay from 50p + P&P.

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                    17.10.2008 12:56
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                    Good opening chapter, but then it's a struggle.

                    I first came across Simon Kernick like many by reading 'Relentless.' It was a fast moving thriller and something I really enjoyed reading, at the end was a teaser for his next book, 'Severed' and after reading the teaser I was highly anticipating it!

                    However Kernick does not deliver the way he did with Relentless. The book starts off great, the opening chapter launches you into it as the main character wakes up next to a headless body with no re-collection of how he got there.

                    This opening chapter could have set the scene for another excellent read, however the way the book unfolds is highly disappointing. Alot of the book becomes too unbelieveable and it's hard to feel attached to any of the characters because of this.

                    I give it 2 stars because it did have me turning the pages, but I just wanted to finish it. After was is an excellent opening chapter, the rest of the book is just a huge let down.

                    Don't read this if you haven't yet read Relentless by him, which is by far a better read.

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                    02.05.2008 17:34
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                    An action thriller that does not stop throughout

                    I can tell you the one thing that I would not do if I woke up next to the decapitated body of my girlfriend and that is go on a chase around London. Imagine the absolute shock you would be in. No manner of persuasion or threats would stop me from being a jibbering wreck on the floor. Why is this? Probably because I love my partner and would not know what to do without her and the fact that I am not a former solider. You see Tyler, the hero of 'Severed', is a former soldier this means that according to author Simon Kernick he is able to compartmentalise grief and get on with the job at hand. If we are creating autobots who brush aside the death of a loved one then count me out. But if you can get past this frankly worrying start then perhaps you will enjoy this book?

                    Today is not Tyler's best day. He has just woken up in a strange bedroom next the corpse of his girlfriend. At the end of the bed is a TV and DVD player with a note telling him to press play. Tyler watches as a man looking just like him kills his love. What is going on? Tyler does not have time to think before he is phoned on a strange mobile and told to go to an address and pick up a briefcase. If he succeeds he will receive all evidence framing him, if not, they go to the police. Over the next few hours Tyler must use all of his army training to stay alive and, if he succeeds in doing this, perhaps get revenge.

                    The initial chapter of this book lets you know exactly what type of read you are in for as you are thrust into one of the most over the top and exhilarating crime thrillers I have read. However, it seems that Kernick has sacrificed reason for the sake of entertainment. As mentioned in my opening paragraph the entire book relies on the fact that Tyler will go on a killing spree after awakening beside the body of his love - unlikely. In fact this level of absurdly continues throughout the book to the extent that it leaves traditional thriller status and enters a heightened fantasy. If you read this book as an action fantasy similar to works by Jack Higgins of Lee Child, then you should like it.

                    What Kernick does right in 'Severed' is create a sense of action and tension. Set over a very harrowing day in the life of Tyler the book starts off at a running pace and does not really slow down. If you are the kind of person that can disengage their brain and enjoy some silly action then this book could really appeal. There is no denying that the many action set pieces are well written and kinetic. The various shootouts are amongst some of the best written I have read which has to count for something.

                    Unfortunately, the action is not enough to prevent you from feeling that the book is a little ridiculous. Tyler is a supposedly intelligent man yet he routinely falls into various traps and never stops to think about his actions. Kernick also falls into the trap of making a big deal out of a reveal in the book only for most reader to have seen the twist pages ago. Kernick's subtle hints fail pretty badly as any reader of crime fiction will understand the direction the book is taking pretty quickly.

                    The areas of characterisation and writing are also pretty average. Tyler is the only character we really get to know in the book and he is little more than a surname that goes around getting into trouble. Although we are meant to understand his off hand manner, I felt that Kernick was unconvincing in describing his apathy towards death and killing people. This apathy is what also infects the writing as it seems that Kernick choose to use simple language, and I felt it did not do enough to convey the anguish that the character must feel.

                    'Severed' is not a book likely to be nominated for many prestigious literacy awards due to the fact that the writing and characters are poor. However, this is not the type of book that is trying to push these elements to the fore. In fact, this is a book that wants to take you on a roller coaster ride - and if that is its aim, it succeeds. I would advise anyone looking for a serious crime thriller to avoid this book as its OTT nature will prove too much for many. However, for fans of more bullish fiction they could easily enjoy a few hours reading 'Severed'.

                    Author: Simon Kernick
                    Year: 2007
                    Price: amazon uk - £3.90
                    play.com - £4.99

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