Sweetpea by C. J. Skuse

33229410I haven’t killed anyone for three years and I thought that when it happened again I’d feel bad. Like an alcoholic taking a sip of whisky. But no. Nothing. I had a blissful night’s sleep. Didn’t wake up at all. And for once, no bad dream either. This morning I feel balanced. Almost sane, for once.

Rhiannon is your average girl next door, settled with her boyfriend and little dog…but she’s got a killer secret.

Although her childhood was haunted by a famous crime, Rhinannon’s life is normal now that her celebrity has dwindled. By day her job as an editorial assistant is demeaning and unsatisfying. By evening she dutifully listens to her friend’s plans for marriage and babies whilst secretly making a list.

A kill list.

From the man on the Lidl checkout who always mishandles her apples, to the driver who cuts her off on her way to work, to the people who have got it coming, Rhiannon’s ready to get her revenge.

Because the girl everyone overlooks might be able to get away with murder…

Source Format Pages Publisher Publication Date
NetGalley eARC 384 Harlequin UK April 20th, 2017

Who is Rhiannon? Simply put she is a killer and that’s not even a spoiler. She loves her pet dog and her Sylvanian family doll house. Her parents are dead, her older sister gone to the US of A.  When she’s not at work as an editorial assistant for a local newspaper, she has a number of side activities. Apart from walking her dog (even though it’s questionable as there is some overlap), growing herbs, dreaming of the Honey Cottage in Wales and adding to the Sylvanian family, she could be slapped with quite a hefty criminal record. Rhiannon might not have the heart or empathy, but she is cunning and she doesn’t hurt any innocents (except that one time). Completing the picture of Rhiannon’s life is her BF Craig. BF Craig who is plugging Rhiannon’s workmate, Lana.

I was in a foul mood to begin with, partly due to the usual Christmas-Is-Over-Shit-It’s-Almost-Back-To-Work-Soon malaise and partly due to the discovery of a text on Craig’s phone while he was in the shower that morning. The text said: Hope you’re thinking of me when ur soaping your cock.- L. Kiss. Kiss. Smiley face tongue emoji.

Oh, I thought. It’s a fact then. He really is shagging her. L. was Lana Rowntree – a kittenish 24-year-old sales rep in my office who wore tight skirts and chunky platforms and swished her hair like she was in a 24-hour L’Óreal advert.

From the quote you should be able to get a feel for Rhiannon’s ‘voice’ somewhat. But I can assure you that, she’s just so over the top full of sarcasm, black humor and retorts. I know the girl has an issue and what not, and while it definitely made her distinctive, I feel her ‘voice’ wasn’t an underlying creepy kind of cool. It was the slightly obnoxious Johnny Bravo type of cool. At times I did wonder whether I was able to take it all in, especially since Sweetpea is delivered in first person and in sort of a diary form which did let the story down for me a bit as they come across a bit comedy stand-up’ish. You know the ones where there is one anecdote after another, instead of a fluid storytelling? I know, this is a journal type format, so I can’t really blame the delivery.

I wanted to murder the world. Nothing real was any good. And nothing living was worth living for. Everyone just needed to die.

There is a lot happening in this book, what with a healthy cast of characters, and Rhiannon’s special brand of free-time-activities. I feel like I should tell you more, but I won’t… in terms of plot, let’s just say that as she works in the newspaper she has access to information and her kill list is there for a reason. How she deals with each item/person on her lists? For you to find out… The plot doesn’t feel all over the place. Everything is explained, the timeline flows smoothly and if you’re willing to take it with a pinch of incredulity at times, then have at it. Just beware, if you are highly empathic, you may get an owwie or two along the way, lots of profanity and cussing. As for me? I had to definitely shut a bit of my brain off. Sometimes ignorance truly is bliss.

As such, I am absolutely certain that a number of readers may and/or will find this book completely and utterly wrong. There will always be someone who takes a comment in the wrong way. These comments, Rhiannon’s mental monologue, didn’t affect me. It was what got her off that screamed: a) I have found my limit when it comes to psychos and Rhiannon is one step too far gone for me, and b) I was wondering if it was one of those cases where ‘Here, this is outrageous already, lets add more fuel to the fire’.

While I have come across a number of reviews who were praising the book for it’s humor and funny content, I can’t say I, personally, was belly-laughing my way through it. Can’t argue over a sense of humor I guess… But I did find a common ground with Rhiannon. Her kill lists included quite a number of things I couldn’t help but agree with. For example, a group of people taking up the whole pavement (I have resulted to just barrel my way through, really!), wrongly packed shopping bag by those volunteer people who collect money for various things (I drop a few coins in their bucket, but tell them to get their mitts off my shopping bag), office peeves (lunch time!!! lunch time surrounded by men!!!), etc.

  1. Cold callers- I swear a circle of Dante’s Inferno is missing some inhabitants.

Overall… who would have thought I would find my limit when it comes to psychotic characters? This book was slightly too much even for me at times! Especially the acts involving a character called AJ and the ending. These made me gag bit… OK, I lie… They made me gag a lot. Sweetpea, I hereby declare you, The Shock Factor! 3*- I liked it. I liked it because the story flowed well, the plot was legit, there was plenty to keep me occupied plus them kill lists. Discounting 2* because the humor left me, most of the times, neutral, and I was entirely too grossed out by certain events.

I think it’s what I like about death- it’s utter obedience. You kill something, it dies. You ask the question with your knife and the person responds, undoubtedly, every time. No excuses, no second chances, no refunds. It does as it’s fucking told. That’s a very beautiful thing.


  1. Yeah, this sounds a bit much for me! And I love things like this when they are made into movies. But if you can’t say some of the stuff because it’s TOO GNARLY, then it’s going to be WAY too gnarly for me. I’m out! 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha, nothing wrong with morbid sense of humor… it is an interesting comment though because I do morbid, just not through humor..maybe that’s why it didn’t fully click for me. In fairness, having read about quite a few psychipaths/killers, I think our Sweetpea here tops the list for being the ‘strongest’ 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. hehe well this sounds like fun, even if it wasn’t totally for you with the humour and the graphic bits-I think I’d be in the same boat as you- I don’t usually read things classed as too graphic cos I’m wayyy too squeamish for that!! Awesome review!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is one I could have picked up myself.. such a promising blurb. I also like the diary-like format, I think you really get to know someone that way, but too much psycho is not good, I still want to be able to follow their thoughts and connect so not convinced about this one. Thanks for your review!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This sounds really interesting, but hearing you say that this was too much for YOU is even MORE interesting! This reminded me of Dexter too. Have you ever tried reading that series? Or watched the TV series? 😀 This was definitely a great review, Liz! 😛
    – Lashaan

    Liked by 1 person

  5. If YOU were grossed out by events, I would definitely not survive this book, hahaha! It’s too bad, the plot sounds good enough, I love the idea of a kill list (is that weird to say this???) but the humor, or voice of the main character sounds too much. Fab review, as always!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Donna! 🙂 Yeah… with all the other glowing reviews for the book I felt nearly bad at (generously) giving it 3 stars because one of the characteristics was simply too gross.. but Inge got in touch to get spoiled and it seems it sounded pretty gross for her too 😀 haha…kill lists are cool, I think.. they’re better than actually raging it out I guess… 😀


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