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The Basement [Kindle Edition]

Stephen Leather
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (223 customer reviews)

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Book Description

New York is a city full of strangers. For NYPD detectives Turner and Marcinko, none are harder to figure out than the serial killer on the loose torturing and killing young women. In fact, right now, somewhere in the city, a woman is being held captive in a basement and it is up to the detectives to find her and the killer—before it’s too late.

As pressure mounts on Turner and Marcinko, their prime suspect is screenwriter wannabe Marvin Waller. He is becoming increasingly frustrated by his lack of success and the cops think he might be channeling his anger into murder—but he doesn’t seem to be at all concerned that they are hot on his trail. As Turner and Marcinko close in on Waller they have to wonder: is he the killer? And if he isn’t—who is?

Fusing shifting viewpoints with a growing sense of dread and almost unbearable suspense, the UK’s thriller master Stephen Leather arrives on the shores of the United States with The Basement, his most terrifying work to date.

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

"Like William Goldman’s No Way to Treat a Lady (1964), this is a lean thriller involving a cat-and-mouse game between a killer and the police. The investigators—the antagonistic Turner and the sympathetic Marcinko— have zeroed in on their prime suspect, Marvin Waller, a prolific (but as yet unproduced) screenwriter whose arrogance and lack of cooperativeness seem to confirm their suspicions. But Marvin steadfastly maintains his innocence, at the same time taunting the cops, goading them into actions that work to Marvin’s advantage (although exactly what he’s up to is a mystery to us). Marvin is an intriguing creation—clever, intelligent, and manipulative—and the author keeps us on our toes, trying to figure out if the guy is a killer or just an egomaniac. Some writers might have made the mistake of beefing the story up with multiple subplots, but the novel’s length is exactly appropriate for the story Leather is telling. With a final-act surprise that’s guaranteed to knock readers out of their seats, the novel is impossible to put down." -Booklist

About the Author

Stephen Leather is one of the UK's most successful thriller writers. He was a journalist for more than ten years on newspapers such as The Times, the Daily Mail and the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Before that, he was employed as a biochemist for ICI, shovelled limestone in a quarry, worked as a baker, a petrol pump attendant, a barman, and worked for the Inland Revenue. He began writing full time in 1992. His bestsellers have been translated into more than ten languages. He has also written for television shows such as London's Burning, The Knock and the BBC's Murder in Mind series. The Stretch and The Bombmaker were filmed by Sky One. You can find out more from his website,

Product Details

  • File Size: 305 KB
  • Print Length: 135 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1612181481
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (November 29, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0053TIB2W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,785 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
112 of 131 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars How to be a psychopath 101 November 4, 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
When I read the opening sentences of THE BASEMENT, I thought I was going to love it: "New York always brings out the serial killer in me. It's a great city to kill in. The best." Instead, I was pretty much revolted by it. It's told in two voices, the first-person voice of a social misfit suspected of being the serial killer (which he may be) and the second-person voice that puts the reader in the role of the serial killer (which may be the misfit).

The writing is fine, the plot has potential, but the execution is distasteful. While I can imagine this book being described as "An Intimate Look into the Mind of a Serial Killer," the fact is that it is a romanticized look into the mind of a serial killer, yet it's also remote. The reader doesn't get to know much about the characters except that one or two are especially twisted. The abducted and tortured victim is two-dimensional, having no life in the reader's mind unless she is being written about. The misfit is a wannabe screenwriter who finds himself clever, particularly when he's sassing the cops--he's just obnoxious. The author's research is inadequate, for example his characters seem to be Americans, yet they all use British colloquialisms, and he describes New York as having 15 million people living within its borders, when the population is closer to 8.2 million.

Casting the reader as the serial killer is an interesting, promising choice, but reading that you are performing certain tortures or killing and dismembering people (and getting turned on about it) doesn't really appeal to those who abhor the actions of serial killers. Yes, an intimate look into their minds might be interesting, but having a serial killer's mind transplanted into one's own brain is not especially appealing.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting into The Basement November 27, 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
At a mere 127 pages (in my edition), calling The Basement a novel may be a bit of an overstatement. Personally, I like a little more meat to my books, but if they have to be this lean, at least they should be as good as this Stephen Leather story.

The main character in The Basement is Marvin Waller, a young screenwriter who's never sold a screenplay. He may not even be a good writer, but in his mind, he's an unrecognized genius. Certain that secretaries are standing between him and the studio execs and stars he wants to pitch to, Waller has taken to standing outside of the homes of actors and directors. Waller may be obnoxious, but he's smart and is careful about staying within the law, much to the consternation of a pair of cops who suspect him of being a serial killer.

Alternating with Waller's narration are scenes from the killer's point-of-view. Actually, they're told in the rarely used second-person viewpoint, but it works here. In the killer's basement, a victim is held: a woman who is a secretary and is being subjected to various degradations that are to lead to eventual murder.

Though (as stated before), The Basement is rather short, it is also the right length, a well-paced and suspenseful read. Depending on your purchase price, you may feel that this book is expensive, but if you place more value on the quality of the writing than the number of pages, the cost will be more reasonable.
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34 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Through the eyes of a killer November 8, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an engaging and fast-paced thriller for fans of novels like Silence of the Lambs. There are passages depicting sadism and explicit sexuality, so fair warning to the squeamish. It will make you uneasy. I could not give it five stars as I thought it was a little short and the characterizations a bit sketched in. Overall, however, it was a good read and well worth the price.

Rodd Reduxxx, author of Mort and The Oldest Living Vampire Tells All
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thoroughly entertaining March 17, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
'The Basement' intrigued from the very start - so much so I read it in one day. Well written, as you would expect from a bestselling author of this calibre, the sequence of events holds the reader's attention from start to finish.
I certainly did not see the twist at the end coming.
I felt the balance was just right for a novella as the story doesn't have the abruptness of a short story but at around 40,000 words was long enough for the characters to gain sufficient depth without the complexities of a detailed novel.
Over the years I have read and thoroughly enjoyed many books written by Stephen Leather, especially the Dan Shepherd series. 'The Basement' certainly did not disappoint and I will continue to look out for this author's work.
Excellent value reading at under £1.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars disappointing, at best. December 15, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The premise of this book sounded interesting. I really thought I would like it. It didn't live up to its billing and it was not an enjoyable book.
Characters: two dimensional at best, and no dimensional, usually.
Plot: what plot? Story was told in two different voices. Mr. Waller the twenty-three year old "genius" who was an unpublished/nonproduced screen play writer. Who also, just happened to be a perfect match for a serial killer. Dialog was stilted. Didn't sound American. In fact, I thought the main character was going to be a newly arrived in this country immigrant from England (based on dialog and I guess sentence structure.) I was wrong. He was supposedly the orphaned child of a successful, oscar-winning producer and director and a mother who made him watch her commit suicide.

The two detectives in this novella (it wasn't a full book in my opinion) made me think of card-board cut-outs. No depth, no fully fleshed characters.

Through out the booklet Mr. Waller is describing the books/screenplays he is going to write, if he can figure out a successful ending. The sad part is, Mr. Leathers obviously couldn't figure out an ending to this story, therefore he just stopped. Came up to the climax of the book and quit. Where's the rest of the book?

Do I wish I had my money and time I spent on this book back. You bet. It was both a waste of time AND money. Wish it were possible to give it a negative star rating. I will not be purchasing nor reading any more of this authors work.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Basement
This book keeps you on your toes the while time. Just when you think you figured it out everything changes. Best book I have read in a while. Read more
Published 16 hours ago by Carlee Jordan
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good book. Awesome surprise ending
Very good book. Awesome surprise ending. Getting into the mind of the serial killer was a bit disturbing. Maybe a little too realistic. I would highly recommend it.
Published 5 days ago by Jason Acevedo
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
good author
Published 8 days ago by fliss marwick
4.0 out of 5 stars Mystery to the end
Nerve wracking mystery that keeps it up until the last page of the book. Well recommended read for anyone needing a thriller fix.
Published 14 days ago by J.L
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine, unusual mystery!
Excellent! I write mysteries but even I hadn't guessed the ending until about one page before it was revealed. Read more
Published 24 days ago by J. D. Barrett
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
It ended too soon.
Published 27 days ago by tessa hartwick
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
didn't find it all that believable.
Published 1 month ago by wayne_b28
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my favorite.
Lacked some substance. The twist at the end didn't really pay off. I felt like maybe I just wasn't the right audience for this book. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Sarah Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprise ending!
Couldn't put the book down until I finished it! What an ending!
Published 1 month ago by Phyllis Hyams
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Exciting twist you'll never see coming
Published 1 month ago by Paula M Foltz
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More About the Author

Stephen Leather is one of the UK's most successful thriller writers, an eBook and Sunday Times bestseller and author of the critically acclaimed Dan "Spider' Shepherd series and the Jack Nightingale supernatural detective novels. Before becoming a novelist he was a journalist for more than ten years on newspapers such as The Times, the Daily Mirror, the Glasgow Herald, the Daily Mail and the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong.

He is one of the country's most successful eBook authors and his eBooks have topped the Amazon Kindle charts in the UK and the US. In 2011 alone he sold more than 500,000 eBooks and was voted by The Bookseller magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the UK publishing world. Born in Manchester, he began writing full time in 1992.

His bestsellers have been translated into fifteen languages. He has also written for television shows such as London's Burning, The Knock and the BBC's Murder in Mind series and two of his books, The Stretch and The Bombmaker, were filmed for TV. You can find out more from his website and you can follow him on Twitter at

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Topic From this Discussion
Ending falls short?
The ending was ridiculous at best, and left way too many unanswered questions. How would that have been geographically possible? Really stupid ending, not thought out at all, I could have done better!
Mar 15, 2012 by C. Jones |  See all 2 posts
Horrible Ending Be the first to reply
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