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The Savage Kind

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Two lonely teenage girls in 1940s Washington, DC, discover they have a penchant for solving crimes—and an even greater desire to commit them—in the new mystery novel by Macavity Award-winning novelist John Copenhaver. Philippa Watson, a good-natured yet troubled seventeen-year-old, has just moved to Washington, DC. She’s lonely until she meets Judy Peabody, a brilliant and Two lonely teenage girls in 1940s Washington, DC, discover they have a penchant for solving crimes—and an even greater desire to commit them—in the new mystery novel by Macavity Award-winning novelist John Copenhaver. Philippa Watson, a good-natured yet troubled seventeen-year-old, has just moved to Washington, DC. She’s lonely until she meets Judy Peabody, a brilliant and tempestuous classmate. The girls become unlikely friends and fashion themselves as intellectuals, drawing the notice of Christine Martins, their dazzling English teacher, who enthralls them with her passion for literature and her love of noirish detective fiction. When Philippa returns a novel Miss Martins has lent her, she interrupts a man grappling with her in the shadows. Frightened, Philippa flees, unsure who the man is or what she’s seen. Days later, her teacher returns to school altered: a dark shell of herself. On the heels of her teacher’s transformation, a classmate is found dead in the Anacostia River—murdered—the body stripped and defiled with a mysterious inscription. As the girls follow the clues and wrestle with newfound feelings toward each other, they suspect that the killer is closer to their circle than they imagined—and that the greatest threat they face may not be lurking in the halls at school, or in the city streets, but creeping out from a murderous impulse of their own.


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Two lonely teenage girls in 1940s Washington, DC, discover they have a penchant for solving crimes—and an even greater desire to commit them—in the new mystery novel by Macavity Award-winning novelist John Copenhaver. Philippa Watson, a good-natured yet troubled seventeen-year-old, has just moved to Washington, DC. She’s lonely until she meets Judy Peabody, a brilliant and Two lonely teenage girls in 1940s Washington, DC, discover they have a penchant for solving crimes—and an even greater desire to commit them—in the new mystery novel by Macavity Award-winning novelist John Copenhaver. Philippa Watson, a good-natured yet troubled seventeen-year-old, has just moved to Washington, DC. She’s lonely until she meets Judy Peabody, a brilliant and tempestuous classmate. The girls become unlikely friends and fashion themselves as intellectuals, drawing the notice of Christine Martins, their dazzling English teacher, who enthralls them with her passion for literature and her love of noirish detective fiction. When Philippa returns a novel Miss Martins has lent her, she interrupts a man grappling with her in the shadows. Frightened, Philippa flees, unsure who the man is or what she’s seen. Days later, her teacher returns to school altered: a dark shell of herself. On the heels of her teacher’s transformation, a classmate is found dead in the Anacostia River—murdered—the body stripped and defiled with a mysterious inscription. As the girls follow the clues and wrestle with newfound feelings toward each other, they suspect that the killer is closer to their circle than they imagined—and that the greatest threat they face may not be lurking in the halls at school, or in the city streets, but creeping out from a murderous impulse of their own.

30 review for The Savage Kind

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mandy White (mandylovestoread)

    A murder mystery in the 1940's with 2 teenage girls on the trail of a killer. This book was dark and twisty and really well done. It did feel a bit long and drawn out in places but it was an enjoyable read. It was an historical version of a Nancy Drew mystery with the girls trying to find out what happened to their classmate and what it has to do with their English teacher. The girls learn alot about themselves and each other in the process. With alot of references to classic poetry and novels, th A murder mystery in the 1940's with 2 teenage girls on the trail of a killer. This book was dark and twisty and really well done. It did feel a bit long and drawn out in places but it was an enjoyable read. It was an historical version of a Nancy Drew mystery with the girls trying to find out what happened to their classmate and what it has to do with their English teacher. The girls learn alot about themselves and each other in the process. With alot of references to classic poetry and novels, this is a the dream novel for a crime loving bibliophile. Thank you to Pegasus Books and Edelweiss for my advanced copy of this book to read. Released on October 5th.

  2. 4 out of 5

    John

    Well, I wrote it, so I'm pretty biased. : ) I just hope readers enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. XO Well, I wrote it, so I'm pretty biased. : ) I just hope readers enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. XO

  3. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    ... autobiographers are self-serving, aggrandizing. Memoirists embellish. It’s unavoidable. To write down your memories is an act of invention, to arrange them in the best, most compelling order, a bold gesture. Some of the diary entries that follow are verbatim, lifted directly from the source, but others are enhanced and reshaped. I reserve my right to shade in the empty spaces, to color between the lines, to lie.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chandra Claypool (WhereTheReaderGrows)

    Femme fatale noir that's twisty and covers a variety of subjects and genres... two girls who meet, become sleuths, grapple with their own attraction to each other (in so many ways), cater to their darker side and EVERYTHING is unrealiable. SIGN ME UP. Oh hi. I've found that while I used to be a more plot driven reader, lately character driven reads have really started to speak to me. Enter THE SAVAGE KIND. Yes there's a mystery that's intriguing but the stars are most definitely Philippa and Judy Femme fatale noir that's twisty and covers a variety of subjects and genres... two girls who meet, become sleuths, grapple with their own attraction to each other (in so many ways), cater to their darker side and EVERYTHING is unrealiable. SIGN ME UP. Oh hi. I've found that while I used to be a more plot driven reader, lately character driven reads have really started to speak to me. Enter THE SAVAGE KIND. Yes there's a mystery that's intriguing but the stars are most definitely Philippa and Judy. It's true, opposites do attract. I related to Philippa a lot - always moving around from being in a military family and not always fitting into the popular/mainstream group. And having that dark side that made me a magnet for those who may have seemed peculiar and/or dangerous. Which got me in trouble a lot but I sure did have a lot of fun. Being a military brat, you tend to change your personality to those around you to constantly fit in - a chameleon in human form. With Judy being the kind of girl I always wanted to impress and be around. Yep, RELATABLE. Set in the 1940s, the author brings such atmosphere to this read. While some might find this slow paced, and at times it can be, it's necessary to see the transitions these girls (and some of the characters around them) go through. I mean, who hasn't wanted to try and solve a mystery and then see if they could probably get away with a crime of their own. Am I right? *wink* I also thoroughly enjoyed my chat with the author (which you can find on my IG Live tab) which enhanced my reading experience and really made me see this story through a new lens. There are more books coming that will span the 50s and the 60s so we get to see these characters grow immensely and I am here for it!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brandy Wilkes

    The tales of these teens was so well interlaced that there were times it was hard to remember who's part of the story I was reading. This homage to the classic femme fatale mysteries of the early 1900s was done well. It kept me guessing all the way to the end. Just when I thought I figured something out, wham I was hit from a new direction. Definitely a great read. Looking forward to more in this series. The tales of these teens was so well interlaced that there were times it was hard to remember who's part of the story I was reading. This homage to the classic femme fatale mysteries of the early 1900s was done well. It kept me guessing all the way to the end. Just when I thought I figured something out, wham I was hit from a new direction. Definitely a great read. Looking forward to more in this series.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    A beautiful, haunting, and gripping noir mystery. Two teenage girls with a tendency to love dark things trying to solve a murder? SIGN. ME. UP. I loved the psychological twists and complexity in this one, and the writing is gorgeous.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Paul Sutter

    THE SAVAGE KIND begins a most interesting trilogy that is set in the late 1940’s. It is referred to as book one of The Nightingale Trilogy. If John Copenhaver can make the next two books as atmospheric and quirky as this one, they will be read with the same enthusiasm as the first. The book centers around two young girls Philippa Watson and Judy Peabody. They are strangers at first but thanks to the encouragement of their English teacher Christine Martins, the pair forge a fast and lasting frien THE SAVAGE KIND begins a most interesting trilogy that is set in the late 1940’s. It is referred to as book one of The Nightingale Trilogy. If John Copenhaver can make the next two books as atmospheric and quirky as this one, they will be read with the same enthusiasm as the first. The book centers around two young girls Philippa Watson and Judy Peabody. They are strangers at first but thanks to the encouragement of their English teacher Christine Martins, the pair forge a fast and lasting friendship. The students love Miss Martins, and with good cause. She makes them feel appreciated and she cares. It is when Philippa goes over to Miss Martin’s apartment that life changes. There, she views a man with her, the man half-naked. It seems that Miss Martin may have been struggling with him as he seems to be forceful in his actions. She goes to tell Judy who doubts that Philippa saw the act behind the two as something criminal and non-consensual. But the next day Miss Martins resigns from her job, shocking everyone especially the girls. They see Miss Martins after that and she is certainly not the same, a personality change ensuing, triggered by that encounter Philippa witnessed. But then things turn dark and murky, when a student Cleveland Closs is found dead in the river. It is obvious this was not accidental. He was murdered and letters written on his arm. It begins a most interesting chain of events where other deaths take place and the two girls use their sleuthing skills to consider potential suspects. The book is written in diary type form in alternating chapters, with Philippa’s and Judy’s observations about the situation and people. They think a man is following them and may be part of the attack and subsequent murders. It is the noir-like style of the book that makes the book feel like a 1940’s thriller. The girls are most different but their goals are the same. The book begins with the narrator teasing us about their identity and how they fit into the story. They write almost fifteen years after the fact, and it is not until the book's finale that we get an indication of their identity. THE SAVAGE KIND is definitely a book for lovers of mystery and interesting characterizations. And it also adds something to the plot when the two girls become more than just friends.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Zachary Houle

    John Copenhaver is about to become a household name with his new novel (the first in a proposed trilogy) called The Savage Kind. The book is that glorious — it should catapult him to fame. But who is John Copenhaver? From his website, it is noted that he won the 2019 Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel for his historical crime novel, Dodging and Burning. He writes a crime fiction review column for Lambda Literary called “Blacklight” and co-hosts a mystery genre radio show. In the context John Copenhaver is about to become a household name with his new novel (the first in a proposed trilogy) called The Savage Kind. The book is that glorious — it should catapult him to fame. But who is John Copenhaver? From his website, it is noted that he won the 2019 Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel for his historical crime novel, Dodging and Burning. He writes a crime fiction review column for Lambda Literary called “Blacklight” and co-hosts a mystery genre radio show. In the context of The Savage Kind, he has taught high school English for 20 years or so (and an English teacher plays an important part in the novel) and, also in the context of the novel, is openly gay. He is a talent to watch out for, and you should scoop up The Savage Kind, which is not quite a YA title even though it boasts two teenaged female protagonists as amateur sleuths who are one step ahead of the police in solving a murder. Set in Washington, D.C., in the autumn of 1948, The Savage Kind focuses on Philippa Watson, who is a polite 17-year-old who has just moved with her family from San Francisco, and Judy Peabody, a well-to-do young woman of the same age who has a bit of a reputation as a troubled youth (she has been reported to drop bricks on cats, poor things). The two strike up a friendship (and possibly more) even if they’re a bit of an odd couple. The glue that holds them together is a high school English teacher named Christine Martins, who feeds her love of both classic and pulp fiction onto the pair. However, one day Miss Martins is seen by the duo arguing with a student in her class and is never quite the same after that. Miss Martins leaves her post, and, not long after, the argumentative student is found dead in a river. Faster than you can say the word "sleuth," Philippa and Judy begin to investigate and what they find through a series of twists and turns may put their lives at risk. Read the rest of the review here: https://zachary-houle.medium.com/a-re...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Gary Sosniecki

    I can’t claim to have many Facebook friends who have had a hardcover book published by a major publishing house. In fact, John Copenhaver may be the only one with a current book. John was co-host of Alan Warren’s House of Mystery Radio Show the night I was interviewed about my true-crime book. Thus, I’ve made it a point to order each of his first two novels as soon as they’re published. “The Savage Kind,” his latest, follows in the steps of “Dodging and Burning” as an excellent read. Copenhaver I can’t claim to have many Facebook friends who have had a hardcover book published by a major publishing house. In fact, John Copenhaver may be the only one with a current book. John was co-host of Alan Warren’s House of Mystery Radio Show the night I was interviewed about my true-crime book. Thus, I’ve made it a point to order each of his first two novels as soon as they’re published. “The Savage Kind,” his latest, follows in the steps of “Dodging and Burning” as an excellent read. Copenhaver again has multiple characters telling the story chronologically in the first person, in this case two teen-age girls in the late 1940s who defy their parents and police by investigating the murders of a teacher and a classmate. Copenhaver’s writing style in this book is superior to most of the commercial fiction I read. The mystery is a little slow to develop, but when it does, the twists and turns come quickly.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    Told in alternating diary entries written in the late 1940s and an anonymous narrator in 1963, this is the story of two young women = Phillipa and Judy- who find each other and meaning in solving crime. Or trying to solve crime. They are high school students who feel alienated from much except each other and their teacher Christine Martins. But then another student, Cleveland Cross, is found dead, Ms, Martins resigns, and the game is afoot. There's a connection to another murder close to home an Told in alternating diary entries written in the late 1940s and an anonymous narrator in 1963, this is the story of two young women = Phillipa and Judy- who find each other and meaning in solving crime. Or trying to solve crime. They are high school students who feel alienated from much except each other and their teacher Christine Martins. But then another student, Cleveland Cross, is found dead, Ms, Martins resigns, and the game is afoot. There's a connection to another murder close to home and lots of questions. This is saved from feeling too Nancy Drew by the setting, the darkness, and the delicate dance between the feelings of these two. It's an interesting read with some well done twists- no spoilers. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. Looking forward to the next in the series.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Amy Breslin

    I don't generally gravitate toward mysteries, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It never felt predictable. I love the author's way with a phrase and his powers of description. I love the structure of the book with the two -- or three -- distinct voices. The characters really drew me in, and there were moments when I had to fight the urge to skip ahead to find out what happened next. I will definitely be looking for the next installment. I'm dying to find out how things went for these character I don't generally gravitate toward mysteries, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It never felt predictable. I love the author's way with a phrase and his powers of description. I love the structure of the book with the two -- or three -- distinct voices. The characters really drew me in, and there were moments when I had to fight the urge to skip ahead to find out what happened next. I will definitely be looking for the next installment. I'm dying to find out how things went for these characters after the end of this book!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Darcia Helle

    The Savage Kind was one of my most anticipated reads, as well as one of my biggest disappointments. I didn't like either of the girls, at all. Both are pretentious twits. More importantly, I didn't feel the girls' behavior or speech pattern fit the 1940s. Add cell phones and change the outfits, and this book could've transitioned straight into the 2020s. Pacing is slow. Took forever for anything of substance to happen. Given that this is the first in a trilogy, when I was more irritated than intrig The Savage Kind was one of my most anticipated reads, as well as one of my biggest disappointments. I didn't like either of the girls, at all. Both are pretentious twits. More importantly, I didn't feel the girls' behavior or speech pattern fit the 1940s. Add cell phones and change the outfits, and this book could've transitioned straight into the 2020s. Pacing is slow. Took forever for anything of substance to happen. Given that this is the first in a trilogy, when I was more irritated than intrigued by the midway point, I gave up. Sorry, but no way am I going to read the next two. This series just isn't for me. *I received an ARC from the publisher.*

  13. 4 out of 5

    Annarella

    A mind-blowing mix of noir and historical mystery, dark and gripping. I loved every moment of it and I hope I will be able to read other books by this author because this one is excellent. A vivid and realistic historical background, a style of writing that reminded me of the best noir writer, well written and realistic characters. The plot is full of twists and gripping, a page turner I couldn't put down. Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for this ARC, all opinions are m A mind-blowing mix of noir and historical mystery, dark and gripping. I loved every moment of it and I hope I will be able to read other books by this author because this one is excellent. A vivid and realistic historical background, a style of writing that reminded me of the best noir writer, well written and realistic characters. The plot is full of twists and gripping, a page turner I couldn't put down. Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for this ARC, all opinions are mine

  14. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Blizman

    This beautifully written book is dark, complex, and unpredictable...just like the budding relationship between its two teenage characters. John has a wonderful ability to set a mood and transport the reader directly into the story, as if we are invisible observers hiding around the corner, privy to every action and thought of the characters. I can not wait to read what's next for Philippa and Judy in their journey of self-discovery, as teenage angst gives way to the curious future that lies ahea This beautifully written book is dark, complex, and unpredictable...just like the budding relationship between its two teenage characters. John has a wonderful ability to set a mood and transport the reader directly into the story, as if we are invisible observers hiding around the corner, privy to every action and thought of the characters. I can not wait to read what's next for Philippa and Judy in their journey of self-discovery, as teenage angst gives way to the curious future that lies ahead for both of them!!!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Randy

    Novelist John Copenhaver is the real deal. He's a wordsmith who takes his time before murder ensues, and then fully invests you into lives of these two very different narrators, both smart teens who start snooping into the death of their annoying classmate. This is a top-shelf literary mystery that delivers a social commentary message about the racist, sexist and homophobic era of the '50s and also cleverly reworks the femme fatale trope. Bravo. I loved it, and how it utterly fooled me. Novelist John Copenhaver is the real deal. He's a wordsmith who takes his time before murder ensues, and then fully invests you into lives of these two very different narrators, both smart teens who start snooping into the death of their annoying classmate. This is a top-shelf literary mystery that delivers a social commentary message about the racist, sexist and homophobic era of the '50s and also cleverly reworks the femme fatale trope. Bravo. I loved it, and how it utterly fooled me.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Nelson

    Copenhaver's second book is a masterclass in literary mystery. The intricacy of the plot coupled with the dynamic characters makes this book a deeply rich, rewarding experience. Every relationship contains layers and complexities that suffuse this riveting mystery with the deeper mysteries of the human heart. At turns dark and tender, this book kept me riveted throughout, just like Copenhaver's first book, Dodging and Burning! Love this talented writer! Copenhaver's second book is a masterclass in literary mystery. The intricacy of the plot coupled with the dynamic characters makes this book a deeply rich, rewarding experience. Every relationship contains layers and complexities that suffuse this riveting mystery with the deeper mysteries of the human heart. At turns dark and tender, this book kept me riveted throughout, just like Copenhaver's first book, Dodging and Burning! Love this talented writer!

  17. 4 out of 5

    kelsey

    rep: sapphic mcs We’re the same person, two sides of the same coin, folie a duex. But it wasn’t madness; it was love. THIS WAS INSANE. i love unreliable narrators. and this was FULL of that. the ending!!! that last letter!!! holy shit i honestly wasn’t expecting a lot of this. a wonderfully crafted mystery thriller

  18. 4 out of 5

    S. Thomas

    First, I'll say I am astonished to see so few ratings here. I would give this a 3.75 stars if I could. The tone and style were superb, the characters very compelling, the narrative rife with atmosphere and clever references. The plot was mostly good, but I did think it took one turn too many towards the end, rendering it somewhat muddled. First, I'll say I am astonished to see so few ratings here. I would give this a 3.75 stars if I could. The tone and style were superb, the characters very compelling, the narrative rife with atmosphere and clever references. The plot was mostly good, but I did think it took one turn too many towards the end, rendering it somewhat muddled.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ed Mckeon

    This began so well - great writing, strong and compelling characters, a deep mystery, but deep into the story the beauty got lost in cross bloodlines, false leads, lies, Greek myths, an unreliable narrator and a finish that was so convoluted that I shut the book, when finished, angry.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    Good mystery, a bit contrived at the end but it kept me interested.a la The Secret History

  21. 5 out of 5

    LyMo

    3.75

  22. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    At times this reminded me a little of "Beautiful Creatures", two girls intensely wrapped up in each others lives. Philippa and Judy are essentially outcasts in their school, and you know what happens when two of them link up! There's a gentle mystery here as they try to figure out what made their favorite teacher change so drastically and then who murdered her. The social strata of Washington DC comes into play, and it's a sign of that era's benign neglect of children that no one really notices At times this reminded me a little of "Beautiful Creatures", two girls intensely wrapped up in each others lives. Philippa and Judy are essentially outcasts in their school, and you know what happens when two of them link up! There's a gentle mystery here as they try to figure out what made their favorite teacher change so drastically and then who murdered her. The social strata of Washington DC comes into play, and it's a sign of that era's benign neglect of children that no one really notices how deeply they're involved (with each other and with the mystery) until it's too late. eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bob Stephen

  24. 4 out of 5

    Taryn Fryer

  25. 4 out of 5

    Erin

  26. 4 out of 5

    Inet Diran

  27. 5 out of 5

    Paige

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rick Cohen

  29. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Kesler

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jan

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