Author: John Marrs
Publication Date: December 1, 2017 / April 12, 2018
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨ (4.5 stars)
The people who call End of the Line need hope. They need reassurance that life is worth living. But some are unlucky enough to get through to Laura. Laura doesn’t want them to hope. She wants them to die.
Laura hasn’t had it easy: she’s survived sickness and a difficult marriage only to find herself heading for forty, unsettled and angry. She doesn’t love talking to people worse off than she is. She craves it.
But now someone’s on to her—Ryan, whose world falls apart when his pregnant wife ends her life, hand in hand with a stranger. Who was this man, and why did they choose to die together?
The sinister truth is within Ryan’s grasp, but he has no idea of the desperate lengths Laura will go to…
Because the best thing about being a Good Samaritan is that you can get away with murder.
The Good Samaritan is easily one of the darkest and most disturbing books I’ve read in a long time. After being unable to put down John Marrs’s uniquely suspenseful The One, I knew I wanted more of his writing in my life. The Good Samaritan is a vastly different novel and its subject matter isn’t for everyone, but I found myself just as unable to put down this story, fascinated by the train wreck of two people absolutely determined to destroy one another.
The first half of the novel takes its time in setting the stage, introducing us to Laura and Ryan and their motivations. My interest drifted at times, repulsed by Laura’s character and how emphasized it felt because of the slow pacing. But once the second half takes off, the pace and tension skyrocket through plenty of twists and turns leading up to a haunting finale. My jaw was on the floor several times, and I’m still not sure how I feel about that ending.
Laura is the sort of main character you don’t love to hate, you just flat-out hate. There’s little room for sympathy for someone who exploits the good intentions of a suicide hotline and actively walks people toward that final ledge rather than away from it. Nevertheless, I begrudgingly came to love how carefully Marrs unfolds her story so that the true magnitude of her unreliability as a narrator and the depths of her scheming don’t become clear until you’re already sucked into her web of deceit. And I was similarly impressed by how Marrs contorts Ryan into a character that isn’t easy to like, even next to someone as twisted as Laura. It’s chilling to see the uncomfortable lengths that both of them are willing to go to, driven by desperation, grief, and anger.
Even though I often found The Good Samaritan to be disturbing and hard to swallow, I have to say that I enjoyed this crazy novel. Obsession, manipulation, and the touch of unreliable narrators are present every single page. I’m quickly learning to expect the unexpected with John Marrs’s writing, and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more of his work. In the meantime, if you give this one a shot, be sure to have a nice, light read on deck for afterwards. You’ll want it.
Warm thanks to Thomas & Mercer for providing me with a digital copy in exchange for an honest review.