The American Strangler – Book Review

Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“His soul was the hunted, his mind the hunter.”

One word review? Incredible. I’ve been drawn into this book more than I thought I’d be, which was unexpected, and because of how complex and involving the story is, it’s taken me much longer to get through it than I anticipated. I wanted to take in every bit of information and fully understand the position the main characters were in, and as a result, I think I’d put this book up there in my top five of the year so far. Fleisher is an absolute literary wizard!

Simple and sweet. We all know how lots of people hate lawyers, especially if they have ever been sued. Dr. Ron Rellick loses everything, including his sanity, to a malpractice claim and goes homicidal. Get inside the mind of a good man turned violent. See how the evil of corrupt lawyers leads to unforgiving vengeance. Dr. Rellick becomes the hunter to avenge what he sees as the scales of justice fractured and out of balance.

The beginning.

Amazing. Absolutely amazing. The first chapter sold this book for me – it’s not necessarily the longest chapter or the most detailed, but everything we need to know to get into the story is told within the first few pages, also allowing us to use our imaginations a bit to get the full story. The main character, his thoughts and feelings as well as what’s going on around him is perfectly moulded by striking vocabulary, creating paragraphs upon paragraphs of thought-inducing text. I was instantly hooked and eager to find out more about Dr Ron Rellick’s life, and just why he was experiencing some form of hurt, disappointment and resentment. From reading the synopsis of the book, I was certain these feelings would change dramatically, and was instantly curious to know exactly what Ron was capable of.

Ron is a very complex character. He goes through a psychotic episode, an experience he seems to have no control over. However, when he snaps out of this almost demonic state, he’s terrified by the things he’s done, followed shortly after by feelings of acceptance and calmness. This made for very powerful reading as you don’t know what will come next! Ron has his own reasons for acting the way he does, especially with everything he’s experienced in his life and from the pain he’s been through. His ‘victim’ was chosen very carefully and the story shows just what certain people (and their actions) can do to a man. The story gets rather dark quite early on, and I loved how this played out – it only made me more eager to continue learning about Ron and experience more thrilling scenes. How long could he keep his innocent act up? Will his wife always stand by him, even if she finds out the truth?

The author’s description of people and situations was so flawless, everything flowing so easily from one scene to the next. Readers are given a look inside Ron’s mind, sharing his thought processes and plans, almost like we’re a part of him, or a close friend at the very least – I loved how we very quickly learn the dual meaning behind the title of the book. It’s dark and gritty, but also shows parts of Ron’s normal life as he goes about his day to day work. Even these situations come full circle to his strong feelings against lawyers. Little do his patients know the battle he’s going through, or the horrifying thoughts plaguing his mind… I found myself thinking of how the other characters would act if they new the truth. Would they ever?

“No more dreams to live for, only emptiness and torment stood ready to visit upon them.”

A particularly gripping part of the book for me was Ron’s court case. I served on jury duty myself a few years ago, so I could really relate to some of the things described here. It was interesting to read about how the lawyer portrayed Ron to the jury, but it was just as interesting to hear Ron’s thoughts on the whole scene as it played out. The story up to now had no dull moments, each page kept me on edge and the story just begged to be read. The author’s talent for writing really impressed me through the beginning of the book and I just knew this would be consistent all the way through. Finding out how Ron coped with his hardships was so intriguing to me and I was curious to find out whether he had any more ‘incidents’ with those people he felt so strongly against…

The middle.

It was clear the author had gone away and done extensive research before writing this book. What we learn about the medical industry and what goes on in the courtroom for example, was so complex and involving which was so so impressive to me. I felt so immersed in each scene and even though Ron’s court case took up a big chunk of the book, it created a kind of depth in the story which probably couldn’t have been achieved otherwise. It wasn’t the path I expected the story to go down, but this is what makes it so wonderful – it works so well. You need good concentration to really get into the book at this point as there is so much information to take in and process, but I urge you to make the time for it! It was such a rewarding experience.

I briefly studied Law back in my college days, but found it incredibly difficult. I actually believe I learned more from reading this book than I did in education! I could speak for hours about how detailed the book is and how I could easily place myself in Ron’s shoes, feel his emotions and think his thoughts. With more and more bad luck coming his way, some rather shocking, Ron must work hard to restore his reputation, but with the lawsuit, this proves very difficult. Ron plunges into a depressive state, and the author covers this with such powerful description and vocabulary. With how the beginning of the story went, I could only imagine what would be in store for Ron later down the line, and just how much of an effect this whole experience would have on his life, even with strong views on lawyers to begin with.

Aaand the darkness returns! I really hoped we’d hear more about Ron’s ‘psychotic’ episodes, and the author has not disappointed in the slightest. This time, things become more mysterious – we hear about the things he’s done through his wife, as Ron becomes a missing person. Little does she know that he’s hiding away from everyone with the perfect plan to strike again. The way the author has pieced all this together impressed me no end – absolutely seamless. I was really intrigued to hear about his new life from here on out. As I read more, I found myself feeling more and more sorry for Ron, understanding just how his experiences had shaped this new life. It wasn’t the life he’d imagined for himself, and he was brave to leave the life he knew behind forever. The book reminded me a little of the Dexter series in parts – swift killings, leaving no trace of a clue. I loved the darkness of it!

“Money is power. Morality doesn’t matter.”

Ron goes through his list of victims, picking off each one in his own unique way and leaving his own signature at the scene of each crime. His process is so methodical and I loved how much this character had changed in himself. Even though the change is upsetting, it creates such a gripping story that is really hard to put down. I enjoyed hearing from the perspectives of other characters and how law enforcement were working behind the scenes. When Ron meets a woman in need of help, he has no idea how important her role would be in his life and just how much he needs some human connection. With a relationship blossoming, would Jill turn into someone he could confide in? An accomplice? Or maybe someone who knows nothing at all about his extra-curricular activities and is simply there as a form of normality for him?

The end.

The number of murders begins to rise more dramatically sending detectives into confusion and panic. With predictions of a copycat killer, it was interesting to see how law enforcement were handling the case and how much their predictions differed from the truth. It was also rather refreshing seeing how the White House dealt with protesters and how the eyes of those in power were slowly opening to the reality before them. The story was changing, and even though we flit from Ron, to those in power and back again, this really supported the story in a unique way. It built up suspense and a thirst to find out which way the story would go and even taught us a lot on the way. I had one burning question throughout the entirety of the book’s end, however – what would Ron’s fate be?

He soon finds himself in a bit of a sticky situation which I found to be one of the most nail-biting scenes in the entire book. Could his real self be exposed? Has he finally slipped and left behind the smallest clue to his real identity? I hung onto the author’s every word and tried to think about how Ron would get out of this mess before he even knew! I had my own theories in my mind, and even though what he’s done throughout the book is horrifying, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Ron, even wishing he’d get away with his crimes! It was at this point where I really appreciated just how well the author has created Ron’s character, and just how our feelings about someone can change when understanding their life experiences and everything they’ve been through.

Law enforcement give the green light to boost their mission of finding the American Strangler(s). In comes Joe, a guy from the CIA who seemed like someone you wouldn’t want to mess with. Things heat up as a bigger plan is put into place. I was excited to see where the story went from this point, but also felt rather concerned for Ron and how he was now in more danger than he’d ever been. Meanwhile, Ron reflects on his life; thinking about what he’s lost as well as what his purpose is. This part of the book was particularly moving and really makes the reader think about his entire journey, right back from where he started, to just how things have changed for him now. The words and descriptions are so strong and powerful, and I could tell things were drawing to a close. Would we get a rounded off finale, or will there be unanswered questions to fuel our imaginations further?

“The darkness of his deeds stood before him.”

The ending of the book was phenomenal – so action-packed and full of fear and excitement! We hear a lot from Ron’s partner, Jill’s perspective as she does all she can to keep him safe, not knowing how long she can keep up her act. As well as this, she suffers some pain of her own which eventually puts her on par with Ron and his actions. There’s even more darkness and one particular saddening scene, but we also get some closure too. His fate was unclear, but with how the author ended the book, we can think up our own conclusions which works in its favour. Reading the final page brought me a bit of sadness because the book itself was so good, but I’m now really curious to read more of the author’s work! This is a five star book without a doubt!

Overall thoughts.

The main question I kept asking myself throughout this book was why have I not heard from this author before?! I was amazed by the entire book and just how much it stuck with me. Ron’s character has been created with so much depth and the story line is so gripping and truly memorable. It’s been a while since I enjoyed such a good thriller and as my favourite genre, I’d put this book high up there with the work of some very well known authors!

A big thank you to the author of the book Robert M. Fleisher for my copy of this book to read and review. An INCREDIBLE story! The American Strangler will be released on July 16th on Amazon, available on Kindle or paperback – you can pre-order it now!

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