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Ketchum throws you down into the muck that is the worst of humanity, pins you there and rubs your face in it. If you haven’t read him before you should know this before jumping in. Stranglehold takes an unflinching look at the kind of real life horror that occurs every day. The kind of horror that trickles down, creating a legacy of pain and torment.
Lydia meets Arthur and falls in love. He’s decent and kind and a respectable business owner. But Arthur is a good actor. He’s a sociopath who believes he’s been put on earth to make people realize the world is an ugly pain-filled place. He has done some terrible things in his past and though he fools Lydia for a while, he can’t hide his true self forever. After they have a baby they name Robert, the cracks begin to show and Arthur’s behavior becomes increasingly abusive towards Lydia. Lydia sticks it out until he crosses a line and she realizes she’s been living with a madman and files for divorce. She allows him visitation for Robert’s sake. He loves Robert after all and even after her own abuse at his hands, she believes he is a good father who would never hurt their son . . .
What happens next is just grueling but it wouldn’t be a Ketchum book if it was all unicorns and rainbows. The book follows Lydia through the injustices of the legal system. Lydia assumes she is doing the right thing by following all the rules but playing by the rules isn’t enough. A nasty, ugly and unfair trial begins. It’s infuriating and sad and the innocents, unfortunately, are the ones who suffer the most. It really makes you understand why some people take their kids and run.
I really felt for Lydia and Robert. Lydia’s own past was one filled with abuse and that was the last thing she wanted for her child. She feels guilty and bravely stands up to Arthur once she realizes what a deranged beast he truly was beneath the respectable façade. But sadly she was helpless once she entered the courtroom and had to depend on other people to do right by her.
This book was suspenseful but it will more than likely make you angry. It was horribly grim and unpleasant but it’s one of those books that you have to see through to the end regardless of the fact that you know you’ll probably be sorry.
Narration Notes: Chet Williamson reads with an intense, serious tone well suited to the bleak material. I think he would do an amazing job with a gumshoe noir type of hero because he has that type of voice. He brings Arthur to life; his voice is menacing, mean and calculated and just what this piece demands. Much of this story is told from Lydia’s point of view, however, and I always think it strange when a male is chosen to read a female character Williamson does a decent enough job with Lydia, forgoing the silly cringe-worthy falsetto that some male narrators use, but I would’ve preferred a woman to voice her thoughts, if I’m being completely honest. He’s not bad by any means, but a woman (at least for Lydia’s parts), would’ve been a better choice. When it comes to Robert I have no complaints. He sounded like the confused, scared kid that he was supposed to be and the other male character were easily discernible from one another.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
If you could sum up Stranglehold in three words, what would they be?
Disturbing child abuse
What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
The problem is, I saw the "twists" in this book pretty early on. It's more shock horror than real horror, and while some people might enjoy it, I didn't find it incredibly deep. I don't want to spoil anything, but there are some books that are just not enjoyable to listen to or read. This is one of those books. It's like if human centipede was turned into a book, would you go out of your way to read it? Probably not. That's kinda how I felt about this book.
Any additional comments?
If you can't handle extreme sexual situations, skip this book. If you can't handle child abuse, skip this book. If you can't handle way too many details about certain situations, skip this book. If you're looking for a good horror story, I honestly think you can do better. As a huge horror fan I look for the best scare. This wasn't so much scary as it was just...disturbing. I wouldn't really suggest this book to most people.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
What disappointed you about Stranglehold?
It is gratuitous nastiness. Nasty people and events are all around us but is it entertaining to slap you in the face with it? I think not. If folk do find this type of book entertaining - It is cause for concern about modern folk in general. I accept the world MAY be becoming more violent but readers of this sort of thing could be part of the reason for that. I have read horror books for decades and been entertained by most. Not this one
What was most disappointing about Jack Ketchum’s story?
All of it - well what I read of it anyhow. I gave up fairly quickly. I don't mind some blood and guts and I've 'enjoyed' many a horror story (I'm a Stephen King, etc. reader) - but this book is just plain nasty
Would you be willing to try another one of Chet Williamson’s performances?
I'm not sure...I think the reading was in tone with the material so yes, I'd not have a problem with the performer
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
Any additional comments?
If this is symptomatic of acceptable, entertaining reading matter...it is a horrifying thought
This book should have come with an explicit warning as to its contents. This is a very graphic account of domestic violence and child abuse, be warned before listening, it is unpleasant.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful