Review: In The Cut – Susanna Moore

A novella of murder, sex and wordplay, In The Cut explores the line between sexuality and violence, and the darkness both in society and within ourselves. No doubt about it, this is quite a disturbing novel. So you can decide if it is for you or not – heads up that it includes sexually explicit scenes and violent descriptions throughout.

Our protagonist is Frannie, who lives in New York where she teaches creative writing, and is a regular at some of the city’s slightly seedy bars at night. Early on in the story, she walks in on a sexually intimate moment between a man and a woman in the basement of a bar. As violence and murder begins to pervade her neighbourhood, Frannie gets drawn into an unemotional but quite addictive sexual liaison with the detective on the case, Mallory.

Anyone who likes the Netflix series Mindhunter might be interested in this novel, as it explores many of the same themes: the psychological traits of those drawn to repeat violent acts, the parallels or coexistence of sex and violence. A key difference, though, is that In The Cut is told from a very female perspective, through the mind of its female protagonist.

This novel was originally published in 1995, but you can definitely see why this is a timely revisiting of this story – with both its interest in the dark minds of psychopaths and its female outlook. Some of you may also know the 2003 film version with Meg Ryan and Mark Ruffalo (I haven’t seen it, and am a bit hesitant…!) I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new version or a TV series of this come out in the next few years.

This novella defies neat definition. It has elements of a crime novel, an erotic novel, and also threads of a psychological thriller, but Frannie’s self-conscious narrative ultimately gives it more of a literary fiction vibe. As a creative writing teacher, Frannie is very interested in language and is even collating a dictionary of street slang. She muses on the many different words that can all mean the same thing, and also phrases that can mean multiple things at the same time (one notable example being the title “in the cut”).

These self-reflexive touches to the narrative, and the strange way the story unfolds, make the style of this novel quite hard to pin down. This means it might not be for readers looking for a satisfying crime novel or thriller, but for me this was what I loved most about this novella.

In The Cut is out now with Orion. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the electronic copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.

Sophie @Sophie_Jo_Books  📚🐾