The ‘surely-that-must-be-tongue-in-cheek? title and the jaunty cover suggested this is a light book that uses violence as a form of satirical improv or a piece of cosy girls-rule escapism, That’s not an impression that survives reading the prologue which has our heroine explaining what it’s really like to strangle a man with a stocking. This is, in fact, a book about how to kill men and get away with it and there’s nothing tongue-in-cheek about it.
I’ve seen this book described as ‘darkly comic’ more serious and much more violent than that. This is a book about desperation and hurt and rage, not a stylised killer-chic wit-fest. The violence is graphic and up close and personal, as is the rage that summons it.
This book constantly surprised me. Perhaps the biggest surprise was that the book is characters-driven and what a character! Kitty Collins is a twenty-something, vegetarian heiress to a fortune made from meat, who chooses to support herself through her earnings as an Instagram Influencer. Kitty is not the person who her horde of Instagram followers think she is. She’s a killer who uses Tinder to hunt men whom she believes deserve to die and based on what we see of those men, it’s often hard to disagree with her. Kitty is too complicated to be dismissed with a ‘Psychopath – move on‘ label and too broken to be a cool woman engaged in a guerilla war against the patriarchy.
Kitty’s backstory drives the plot and its slow, clever, surprising reveal creates more tension and more heightened emotions than most psychological thrillers without being dependent on a ‘Ta Da! Bet you didn’t see THAT coming‘ plot twist.
The people in this novel, good and bad, felt very real to me. Katy Brent has captured the reality behind the image presented in fifteen-second TikTok stories. She lays out the abuse and misogyny that triggered the “Me Too” movement and then imagines what would happen if one of those women discovered that she had a talent for killing, that she enjoyed it and that she could (probably) get away with it.
I believed in Kitty. I wasn’t exactly cheering her. I knew what she did was not just wrong but damaging to her and the people around her and yet the more the odds against her rose, the more I hoped she’d get away with it.
I strongly recommended ‘How To Kill Men And Get Away With It”, It’s an engaging, exciting, thought-provoking read, studded with moments of wit and moments that are deeply sad and disturbing.
I read the Kindle version because, when I ordered this book in September, I couldn’t see an audiobook version. After listening to a sample of Victoria Morrison’s narration, I bought the audiobook and I’m looking forward to a re-read next year. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample.
Katy Brent is a British freelance journalist with fifteen years experience.
Katy started work in women’s magazines back in 2005. In 2006 she won a PTA award for New Journalist of the Year.
More recently Katy has focused on television journalism.
How To Kill Men And Get Away With It (2022) is her debut novel.