Maybe it is because of my somewhat fragile emotional state after a terrible breakup about a month ago that I haven’t quite gotten over, but I think this time, Jack Ketchum went to far with his novel Stranglehold. I have always respected Jack Ketchum for his willingness to tread deep within the scum sodden underbelly of American life with novels like The Lost and The Girl Next Door, but I find that at least those books have a moral lesson about the importance of doing what is right, but this book I found it hard to find any kind of moral center. This was just a dark, angry, twisted look into an innocent person being let down by the system. It is still good, but it totally rubbed me the wrong way, and will stick with me for a long time. It starts off with a woman, to quell her crying baby, tries to dunk its head in the toilet. We find out this baby is Arthur Danse, who grows into a reprehensible monster determined to show people how awful this world can be. We then meet Lydia, a nurse with a history of being walked on by the men in her life. And when she meets Arthur at a wedding, it is a match made in hell. He abuses her emotionally than physically, culminating in a divorce and a custody battle where a crazy yet keen Arthur manipulates the system to get their son Robert, who hides a terrible, revolting secret about Arthur that is truly stomach turning. That revelation, mixed with a horrendously downbeat ending, make this book a hard, devastating read I don’t ever want to go through again. Like I said it is good, but it truly was not what I needed at this point in my life.