‘All of this started the night Will told us he was going to be a serial killer.

He said, ‘Okay, I’ve decided what I want to do when I’m older…’

So begins SR Masters’ psychological thriller, The Killer You Know. It’s a great opening – suitably creepy and attention grabbing. And it’s a clever premise for what is a smartly penned book.

Set in multiple timelines, the present, 2015/16, and the past, 1997/98, the plot centres on a group of friends who return to the place where they lived and hung out together in the late 90s.

Blythe. Fucking Blythe. One lane of houses off a main road to somewhere better. … a place to hide from the world, not a real part of it,’ comments Adeline, podcaster and the ‘now’ narrator. The past is told from the varying perspectives of the other friends, Rupesh, Jen, Steve and Will.

It’s in Blythe, during the group’s last summer together, when everything is about to change, that enigmatic, ‘weirdo’ Will declares that sometime in the future he’s going to kill three people, make their deaths look like suicides and then go back to his normal life – and no one will know apart from him and the friends who will remember the moment he told them. While it seems like a joke to most of them, Adeline finds it hard to find the humour in his announcement; she’s chilled by it instead. Fast forward to 2015 when the group gathers on their old stomping ground for a reunion and everyone turns up but Will.

I’m not going to bang on about the plot because to say pretty much anything more would be a spoiler. Suffice it to say, this is a well-written, well-paced book with good characterisation and enough suspenseful plot twists to make it a gripping read. It also pays more than a nod to all those great literary and big screen friendship noirs, like Donna Tartt’s The Secret History or Hitchcock’s Rope, where you spend most of your time trying to work out who did what and why, or just yelling at the screen, ‘Don’t do it. Just don’t do it … Why did you do it?!!‘ And if The Killer You Know hasn’t already been optioned for screen, I’m sure it soon will be.

Highly recommended.


The Killer You Know | SR Masters | Sphere | 2 May 2019 | paperback | £8.99 | other editions available 

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Acknowledgements: Quoted book text © SR Masters 2018. This review is published as part of the virtual book tour arranged by lovely Anne Cater of Random Things Tours. And many thanks also to Millie Seaward at Little, Brown, for sending a review copy and cover image. All opinions are our own. All rights reserved.


Also of interest:The Way of All Flesh’; ‘Call Me Star Girl’;Falling from the Floating World’; ‘Blood Orange’; Beton Rouge’; ‘Gallowstree Lane‘; The Lost Man‘; ‘Delia Owen’s Where the Crawdad’s Sing’; ‘The Story Keeper, Anna Mazzola’s Gothic novel‘; ‘Midland‘; ‘A Greater God‘; ‘Lisa Ko’s The Leavers, Dialogue’s brilliant debut; ‘We should all be feminists’; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’;RW Kwon’s The Incendiaries’; ‘Beautiful words – The Language of Secrets’; ‘Beauty in translation – Roxanne Bouchard’s French Canadian noir‘; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”’; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

This review is © 2019 by The Literary Shed. All rights reserved. All opinions are our own. We welcome your feedback and comments. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please do contact us to request permission. Thank you so much.