STARRED REVIEW
September 2020

These Violent Delights

By Micah Nemerever
Few novelists make an impression as quickly and effectively as Micah Nemerever does in his stirring debut, an explosively erotic and erudite thriller.
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Few novelists make an impression as quickly and effectively as Micah Nemerever does in his stirring debut, an explosively erotic and erudite thriller. Kicking off with an electrifying prologue, These Violent Delights is infused with a thick sense of dread and urgency that does not let up until the final page. 

The novel centers on two social outcasts, Paul and Julian, who first connect in their freshman ethics class in 1970s Pittsburgh. Painfully shy and awkward, Paul gravitates toward Julian’s effortless charisma and good looks like a moth to a flame. Much to the consternation of their families, the boys’ friendship soon morphs into something far more intimate and dangerously co-dependent, as each amplifies the other’s worst ideologies, insecurities and impulses. As their relationship becomes increasingly destructive, Paul begins to search for an act of fealty that will irrevocably bond him to Julian, but neither is prepared for the devastation their act of devotion will yield.

Channeling masters of suspense like Patricia Highsmith and Alfred Hitchcock, Nemerever ratchets up the narrative tension at a deliberately agonizing pace as he unspools the story of Paul and Julian’s ill-fated relationship, all leading up to the night teased in the novel’s opening pages. The two young men frequently engage in deeply cerebral conversations ranging from philosophy and psychology to entomology, and the narrative lends itself well to close reading, as often the most critical developments between the two men stem from the subtext of these weighty talks. 

Though the escalating relationship between Paul and Julian is mesmerizing in its own right, Nemerever’s novel so effectively evokes a state of unease that many readers will keep turning pages in desperate pursuit of the tension-breaking relief that can only come from seeing the story to its conclusion. Aptly titled, These Violent Delights is exhilarating, but not without pain and peril.

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These Violent Delights

These Violent Delights

By Micah Nemerever
Harper
ISBN 9780062963635

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