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Sunday, July 21, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: Temper by Layne Fargo @gallerybooks @ScoutPressBooks @LayneFargo @jessmapreviews

by Layne Fargo 

What a wicked, wicked ride.  Thank you Scout Press / Gallery for these free books.

Publisher: Gallery / Scout Press
Publish Date: July 2, 2019
352 Pages
Genre: Psychological Thriller

After years of struggling in the Chicago theater scene, ambitious actress Kira Rascher finally lands the role of a lifetime. The catch? Starring in Temper means working with Malcolm Mercer, a mercurial director who’s known for pushing his performers past their limits—onstage and off.

Kira’s convinced she can handle Malcolm, but the theater’s cofounder Joanna Cuyler is another story. Joanna sees Kira as a threat—to her own thwarted artistic aspirations, her twisted relationship with Malcolm, and the shocking secret she’s keeping about the upcoming production. But as opening night draws near, Kira and Joanna both start to realize that Malcolm’s dangerous extremes are nothing compared to what they're capable of themselves.

My Review:

OH sometimes I feel I have no rhyme or reason for how I rate books.  Mostly it's whatever I felt right after I turned that last page and I absolutely LOVED this one.  I'm not a very artistic-y or creative person myself but I'm sure if I was, I'd probably jump off the cliff of crazy myself.

You always hear about that brilliant director/actor/writer/artist that is hard to work with, is temperamental, a genius, a bit frightening perhaps, but still someone that is typically revered and you're *blessed* to have a chance to work with him or her.  Let me introduce you to Malcolm.  His reputation precedes him but isn't that was also draws you inexplicably to him?  Kira has dealt with her fair share of *interesting* men and has put up with enough, she's sure she can handle him.  But who is to be feared the most?  What he's capable of? Or what she's capable of?

This definitely gives off a bit of Black Swan vibes.  How deeply into a role does an actor go? Is method acting going too far?  Do you really lose yourself in the character you're portraying or are you just THAT good at switching on and off? 

This one ramps up chapter by chapter.  Is Malcolm a genius or a sociopath? I neither loved nor hated the characters.  I was fascinated by them.  I wanted to slap the women, throttle the men, drink the whiskey, let myself go and scream! The build up crescendos into an ending that while expected, still left me gasping.  Fargo delivers and hit the nail that I needed right now right on the head.


Jessica's Review:

There have been a lot of great thriller debuts this year and TEMPER is one of them! If you’re looking for a good psychological thriller, then I would definitely recommend Layne Fargo’s TEMPER. We get a glimpse into the world of theater and the mind games that ensue between actress Kira and her director and co-star Malcolm.

Kira is an actress living in Chicago, she’s awaiting her next audition for the newest play being put on by Malcolm Mercer and his partner Joanna. Malcolm has made a reputation for himself in the industry as difficult to work with and has been known to play mind games with his stars. That being said, he also considered to be brilliant. We alternate between Kira’s perspective and Joanna’s perspective throughout the book. After Kira gets the part we are brought on a roller coaster of mind games between Kira and Malcolm, all while Joanna tries to keep the production together.

The dynamics between the characters is really complicated and twisted. Joanna and Malcolm co-own their theater company and have worked together for decades. Joanna has seen Mal with countless actresses but he has never looked at her as more than just a business partner. She becomes paranoid that there is something more going on between Mal and Kira – is she imagining things or is her jealousy getting the best of her? Is Malcolm pushing Kira too far or is she the one that can’t control herself?

So many questions and it almost felt like we had two unreliable narrators at different parts in this book. This one took me a little bit to get into, but once I did then I couldn’t put the book down. I think there were parts that did feel a little confusing but I feel like that was intentional with how the characters are intertwined. Overall, I would highly recommend putting this one on that summer TBR and I know I’ll be looking for more from Layne Fargo in the future!

4 stars

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