REVIEW: A ROOM FULL OF KILLERS By Michael Wood

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This book grabbed me from the get go! When I heard the setting was a juvenile detention center full of teenage killers I knew I had to read it…what does that say about me?? A little background about me so you know why I HAD to read this book…while studying criminology in college, I did an entire research project on kids who kill and went to a juvenile detention center that housed them and spent the day observing and interviewing staff. Fascinating stuff and what I learned and observed has stayed with me all these years later I can tell you. It’s disturbing subject matter to say the least and this book shines a light on the topic like none other I’ve read.

To start, the prologue introduces us to a character who very soon will have his whole world destroyed and his life turned upside down. It’s tense, shocking and pretty stomach turning and you just know after reading it you’re in for a wild ride. Shifting locations, we arrive at Starling House, the home of Britain’s most dangerous child killers. There, we are given a glimpse into where these young murderers spend their years before adult prison. It’s a creepy, eerie place to say the least and it’s run by a woman named Kate who has devoted her life and career to running Starling House and managing a house full of killers. When one of her charges is found murdered after being locked in his room at night, questions surface as to what’s really going on at Starling…who can be trusted when you’ve got a literal room full of killers?

DCI Matilda Darke and her team are called in to investigate and we soon learn that she’s coming into the investigation with quite a lot of her own personal baggage. She often seems scattered and slightly on edge, especially when it comes to investigating child killers. When one of them takes her by surprise in his interview, she jumps to a pretty quick conclusion that he’s innocent of murder and sets about to proving that, on top of also investigating the recent murder of the boy within Starling. This development left me a little puzzled as to her competency because she was with this boy for just a few minutes before she declared her “intuition” to have told her he was innocent. I’m not sure I could picture a detective reacting like that. Overall, it left me wondering but I went with it.

Matilda and her staff have quite a bit of ground to cover in their attempts to determine how a boy who was locked in his room at night as ALL the boys were…locks only open from the outside…could have been murdered in the Rec room? Through interviews with the boys and interactions with each other we really get to know Matilda and her team and this is where the book shined for me because I loved these characters! I thought the dialogue was outstanding and the use of humor throughout really helped to lighten the very dark subject matter. These people were witty and you just felt like you were sitting amongst them as they chatted and teased each other. I especially liked Rory and Sian.

Along with the fantastic dialogue and eerie setting, I thought the linear structure and alternating perspectives for each chapter made for a quick pace.  The chapters wrote from the perspective of each boy as he details his murder(s) are chilling… so be prepared to be disgusted, uncomfortable, angered and saddened as each boy details his crimes. What makes it even worse…these could all be and have been “ripped from the headlines” types of stories. It’s so hard to comprehend and that’s one reason I liked Rory so much…he wanted so badly to understand what made these kids kill, but is there ever really a legitimate answer? Nature vs Nurture? I’ll finish by saying my detective skills were partially right on a tiny piece of this puzzle but by no means did I have the ‘whodunit’ or the why figured out. And then.. just when you think it’s all coming to a nice, smooth resolution, the author pulls a final trick out of his hat with that ending and all I could think was WOW…I DID NOT see that coming!!

4/5 Stars

**This is actually book 3 in the series but can be read as a standalone, just be aware that some spoilers from the previous books are included**

A Room Full of Killers is available to buy for kindle here and in paperback on Book Depository . I’m just providing helpful links, and am not affiliated with either of these

 

 

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33 thoughts on “REVIEW: A ROOM FULL OF KILLERS By Michael Wood

  1. I desperately want to read this one, you know I share your love of criminology! The author made the first in the series available for free a little while ago so I snapped it up! Cursed was an exception, this series, I’ll read in order. Great review!

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    1. I know, I thought of you immediately, you’re going to love this! These kids were downright scary and the plot was just twisty enough to keep me guessing. This series HAS to be high on your TBR:)

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    1. Thank you Lorraine! That research project has stayed with me for over 20 years *cough* …time flies…I feel like I was just in college😂My love of crime was born during that time for sure. I can’t wait for this author’s next book, I’m so glad you and Annie reviewed it and brought it to my attention:)

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    1. Thanks Kristin! There’s several of us with criminology backgrounds…Janel is also studying it:) You’ll love this book I’m sure, I was completely taken in. When I did that project in college, the young kids who were there for murder were truly creepy…I’ve never forgotten their eyes and it’s been many years since I was there. I hope you get a chance to read this soon!

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    1. It was Amy! I think you’d really like it if psychopathic kid killers don’t bother you…their stories really disturbed me! I’m still thinking about the ending days later so I highly recommend:)

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  2. I love this review and that fact that this was not without its own surprises! I think I would start at the beginning of the series though! I am never able to do otherwise haha. Do you mind if I ask whether you are currently working with your criminology degree? I had thought of branching into forensics when I was still working in nursing.

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    1. Thanks Danielle! I really enjoyed the characters is this book so you’d probably get an even better feel starting with book 1. I’m not actually working with my degree, I ended up getting my masters in social work right after college and with that I worked in foster care for several years before staying home with my kids.I tried to help them BEFORE they became criminals but I don’t think I was too successful. A few years ago I started professional tutoring at Ohio State and I pretty much only tutor criminology so I still get to study it in a way which I love:) So…nursing for you? We both gravitated to helping professions:) Do you work in that now, I know you’re working mostly from home but wasn’t sure

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      1. I transitioned to pharmacy after moving. I may have mentioned that my son has TS and several mental disorders that can accompany this. The long hours and mental drain of it all was taking too much from where I needed to be, home. I did and still love nurses and nursing though. I focused in wound care and was very passionate. I actually work for a veterinarian pharmacy now, so instead of people, I get to help animals. It has been a very fun experience!

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      2. Oh no, I didn’t know that about your son. How old is he? I can totally see that it would be a struggle to work the long hours that nurses do. I’m glad you have a job you enjoy that seems more flexible. Hope you continue to feel better:)

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      3. Thank you Renee. He is 12 now and has adjusted very well 😊 we always giggle and tease each other about being one odd and messed up family haha. We try to have fun with the hurdles and laugh. Laughter is great medicine ❤

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  3. Wow, those criminology days of yours must have been fascinating!!
    I would have been a little skeptical about the detective’s intuition too! But I’m glad the rest of the book was so good! Fab review!

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  4. We already discussed this one but yes, Rory and Sian are great! Rory is just too sweet, I also liked how he wanted to understand what was going on in their minds… What a bunch of kids… 😦

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    1. Agreed on all counts…makes me wonder if we might see a slight change of career focus for Rory in the future, like more of a profiling angle? That might be interesting!

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  5. I really wanted to read this book but was unable to get it on NetGalley. However, it is one that I wouldn’t mind buying. The whole premise sounds spooky and kids really do make the worst, most chilling villains. I am definitely intrigued by this book.

    ps: Your research sounds really interesting. I can’t imagine actually being in such a detention so I can see why the experience has stayed with you for so long.

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    1. Thanks Diana! I agree, there’s something so much more disturbing about kids committing murders. This book was very reasonable for kindle on US amazon ($3.99), I hope you like it if you decide to read it…I think you will!

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  6. This looks one looks quite interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything about child or adolescent killers… I had no idea that you’d studied criminology. It’s so fascinating. I often think I missed my calling.

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    1. This book really highlights some disturbing aspects of children and crime…it’s hard to get out of your head once you read it for sure. I’ve always loved studying crime and wished I would’ve focused more on that route after college instead of the psychology one I took.

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