Ryan David Jahn

Acts of Violence

"...an astoundingly good debut from an exciting new talent..."


It is 1964. Katrina Marino leaves her job at a bar at four in the morning. Making her way home she motors through a city still awake and very much alive with people facing their own lives and problems. As Katrina arrives at the parking lot, making the short way to the door of her apartment she is faced with a knife wielding man who stabs her without any reason. As the crime is committed in the municipal gardens of the apartment blocks, people ignore Katrina’s cry for help, their own ragged lives making them reluctant to get involved.

As Katrina lies on the ground, blood oozing from her stab wounds by her assailant who has run off after being disturbed, her neighbours deal with their own cries for help with love, marriage, suicide and death.

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Acts of Violence is an astoundingly good debut from an exciting new talent on the scene. Ryan David Jahn has based this fictional tale on the real case of Kitty Genovese who was murdered in front of 38 people, none of whom did anything to save her. This phenomenon is now known as ‘Bystander Effect’. With the assurance of a long standing writer, Jahn gives us a wonderful novel of fractured people and their disappointing lives. We are introduced to Patrick Donaldson, 19 years old and conscripted to the war in Vietnam. He is pulled between his duty to his country and to his ill mother. Thomas, who wants to end his life of lies, is brought back from the brink from an unexpected quarter who opens his eyes to a new existence. Jahn beautifully moves from one apartment to another, describing the lives and tribulations of a small number of the people who have ignored the cries for help from Katrina. Acts of Violence is an astounding piece of fiction. It grips you like a vice from the beginning and doesn’t let you go. The author weaves not only these people’s individual stories within the larger tapestry that is the violence perpetrated on Katrina, but he infuses each scene with an amazing sense of emotion. I felt I had been on an emotional rollercoaster by the time I had finished the last page. This is an astonishing debut that stayed with me days afterwards. If this is what Jahn can conjure up for his first novel, then we are in for some stunning literature from this bright new star to crime fiction.

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