“If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.”
Title: The Cuts that Cure
Author: Arthur Herbert
Genre: Dark Fiction Thriller
Published on: 11 May 2021
Alex Brantley is a burned-out surgeon whose desperation to start a new life outside of medicine leads him to settle in a sleepy Texas town close to the Mexican border, a town that has a dark side. Its secrets and his own past catch up with him as traits he thought he’d buried in the deserts on the frontiers of the border rise up again to haunt him.
To the citizens of Three Rivers, Henry Wallis appears to be a normal Texas teenager: a lean, quiet kid from a good family whose life seems to center around running cross-country, his first girlfriend, and Friday night football. That Henry is a cultivated illusion, however, a disguise he wears to conceal his demons. Both meticulous and brutally cruel, he manages to hide his sadistic indulgences from the world, but with that success, his impulses grow stronger until one day when a vagrant is found murdered.
When Alex and Henry’s paths cross, it starts a domino effect which leads to mangled lives and chilling choices made in the shadows along la frontera, where everything is negotiable.
Cold fury, masked fear, and desperation. I was not expecting such intensity in this story. Maybe except the fear (it’s dark fiction after all), I just wanted to sound poetic…
All of these emotions come together in The Cuts That Cure, a dark thriller fiction by Arthur Herbert, and somehow forms a unique combination of The Godfather (movies), Doctor Strange, and Buzzfeed Unsolved Crime videos. Strange, I know (no pun intended, I am not that lame, honest) but what isn’t, nowadays?
The story begins with the entrance of Alex Brantley, a trauma surgeon, and his medical career face-diving into a bottomless pit, taking Alex’s happiness along with it. With tremendous students loans on his hands and a possible law suit in his future, he moves to Three Rivers, Texas to hold down a teaching job with no other option.
On the other side of the river (pun intended… okay maybe, I am lame) is Henry Wallis, a high school student— smart, untreated and uncontrolled. Following a disturbing incident in Henry’s childhood, he and his mother, Rebecca, move to Three Rivers, Texas.
Alex Brantley, Henry Wallis. Both of their lives are worlds apart but of course, fate (coughAuthorcough) brings them together in… not so spectacular fashion. Really. Their meeting was completely normal— no dramatic entrances (or exits *wink wink*) or fancy car chases. But it is what comes much, much later that brings chaos into their worlds.
The humor, captivating dialogues, and a bunch or very fascinating characters— a mixture and balance of these and it felt like little bursts of life beneath my fingers and eyes. It was all so very delicious.
One thing I loved about this book were the conversation between the adults. It was all cleverly woven words and witty banter; lively enough to make me feel I was with the characters without ever crossing the boundary of “cheesiness”. The only conversation where I felt a little drowsy was between Alex and his lawyer, Gabriella. Maybe because it was kept strictly professional or because law just bores me, I don’t know why I felt a little restless at those parts.
Another interesting thing I liked in this story was how the author used any/all his prior knowledge and research without seeming to have just dumped the information. Often times, I read books where, even though the author has good or passable knowledge on some things, the information feels stiff or stuck. That is not the case in this story as the author perfectly fits the information with his storyline and characters.
Mostly, the characters are what makes this story worth reading. I loved how each and very character, background or not, was able to leave an imprint behind them. Father Bob, Principal Cunningham (she was a tough cookie, I loved her!), Gabriella, Detective Lozano, Stu, Luis, Marco, Roko, Simun, Rebecca Sullivan and Patrick Sullivan (Sully). Such different characters yet I felt compelled to remember each of them.
And what can I say about the Sullivan family, huh? Rebecca Sullivan and her second husband, Patrick Sullivan. One who knew too much and one who didn’t know enough. And Henry Wallis, their son. One with the questionable choices, skewed morals, athletic appearance and dimples. The story on his side was short but definitely not sweet. I would gave loved to explore more about Henry and his life. His family dynamics and the way the characters interacted with each other left me hungry for more. I was really not expecting to read about how Henry ultimately dealt with his situation. Completely in contrast with Alex’s ending on the surface but with more similarities underneath.
I really do not judge the choices Alex made. Because really, what else a person to do, stuck between a rock and a hard place?
It did get a bit boring to read about Alex acting on his decisions and the lead building up to it. The lake, the church, the young gangster, Luis, and Alex’s actions did remind me of The Godfather saga, so I guess there is a plus side to it.
I was more surprised at the path the story took after the few twists and turns. It was very interesting, to say the least. Especially considering the fact that I wasn’t counting on the story to end in a somewhat peaceful note. Though it did give me time to settle any troubled water brewing inside me after, uh, well, everything. An unforgettable read in the end overall!
*Huge thanks to Blackthorn Book Tours for including us in the book tour and sending the e-copy of this wonderful book for an honest review!*
Trigger Warnings: Significant and fatal violent, horror components, blood and gore.
This book is a dark fiction, it contains violence and gore. Please do not read this book if you’re sensitive to such content.