Judith D Collins
This Is How We End Things
By: R. J. Jacobs
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: 09/12/2023
My Rating: 5 Stars (ARC)
SEPT 2023 MUST-READ BOOKS
Riley Sager meets If We Were Villains in a compelling new psychological thriller by RJ Jacobs, following a tight-knit group of graduate students studying the psychology of lying. When one of them is discovered dead after an experiment, everything the group thought they knew about deception crumbles...
The campus is empty, a winter storm is blowing in, and someone is lurking in the shadows, waiting for their chance to kill again.
Forest, North Carolina. Under the instruction of enigmatic Professor Joe Lyons, five graduate students are studying the tedious science behind the acts of lying. But discovering the secrets of deception isn't making any of the students more honest though. Instead, it's making it easier for them to guard their own secrets – and they all have something to hide.
When a test goes awry and one of them is found dead, the students find themselves trapped by a snowstorm on an abandoned campus with a local detective on the case. As harbored secrets begin to break the surface, the graduates must find out who's lying, who isn't, and who may have been capable of committing murder. It turns out deception is even more dangerous than they thought…
A foreboding new dark academia thriller of deception and suspense, This is How it Ends follows the unraveling of a close group of students as they contend with what it means to lie and be lied to.
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R.J. Jacobs Books
About the Author
Photo Credit: Jason Myers
R.J. Jacobs has practiced as a psychologist since 2003. He maintains a private practice in Nashville, focusing on a wide variety of clinical concerns.
After completing a post-doctoral residency at Vanderbilt, he has taught Abnormal Psychology, presented at numerous conferences, and routinely performs PTSD evaluations for veterans.
His published novels:
And Then You Were Gone (2019)
Somewhere in the Dark: (2020)
Always the First to Die (2022)
This is How We End Things (2023)
Connect with R.J.
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Exceptional Authors. Standout Books. Elevator Talk.
INTRIGUING QUESTIONS. INQUIRING READERS WANT TO KNOW.
Behind the Book and the Author
Behind the Book
Q&A with Author R. J. Jacobs
Q. Give us your best ELEVATOR PITCH for THIS IS HOW WE END THINGS.
RJ: At a prestigious university in North Carolina, an enigmatic psychology professor and his graduate students conduct an experiment based in deception. After one trial goes wrong, it becomes clear that they each have something to hide, and that one of them is a killer.
Q. DESCRIBE your novel in three words or less.
RJ: Deception begets suspicion.
Q. SETTING: Tell us more about the book setting and why you selected it.
RJ: Psychology fascinated me during my first undergrad classes and gave me an experience not unlike reading great fiction: discovering that concepts I’d observed myself had been described in detail and even studied in tremendous depth. I found my graduate work fascinating, too—including learning about experimental methodology—and, in a way, did the research for this novel years ago. Graduate students can keep long, peculiar hours, and there’s something mysterious and even bewitching about campus buildings in the desolate hours, particularly when one’s surrounded by devices designed to control perception (a building with hidden observation rooms can make a person wonder if they’re being watched). But college campuses have always made me daydream for some reason.
Q. WRITING: Do you have a favorite chapter or scene in the novel you enjoyed writing the most?
RJ: It’s satisfying to write the scene in which the killer is revealed, in the hopes that there’ve been enough clues along the way that the reader has a satisfying “ah-ha” experience. The action that follows is also fun to write, sort of the payoff for more intricate work of developing the story’s beginning.
Q. TAKEAWAY: What important message, theme, or takeaway would you like readers to be left with when reading your book?
RJ: People can change, and so much of our identity is the story we tell ourselves. Every person has a shadow that’s the opposite of their persona.
Now, for more up close and person from RJ, below!
Behind the Author
I was born in Fort Myers, Florida.
FAVORITE THING ABOUT WHERE YOU RESIDE?
Nashville draws visitors with its music scene but the hiking and backpacking is the best part for me. Nashville is wonderfully green, and the area between here and Chattanooga is one of the prettiest in the country.
I’ve admittedly become obsessed with coffee since I started writing, probably because it helps me focus—to the point that recently I realized before going to bed that I was looking forward to it the next morning.
Probably like a lot of people, this changed for me after having kids. I was stubbornly night-owlish through grad school but have come to really enjoy the start of each day when I have some time to exercise or write.
FAVORITE HOLIDAY OR SEASON?
This may be a hot take, but I’m going with Thanksgiving—it feels to me like a less pressured version of Christmas. I usually get a long run in, then spend the day cooking and hanging out with family. In the last few years, we’ve gone to the movies. What’s not to like?
WHEN YOU RECEIVE A SPARK OF INSPIRATION FOR A BOOK:
I absolutely have to jump and write it down; ideas are like dreams— I think I’ll remember them, but I usually can’t. I have a little mnemonic device that helps me recall a keyword or two for when I can’t abruptly stop what I’m doing.
YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO WRITE?
It changes. I’m usually in my office chair, but I struggle with sameness so I sometimes switch it up. The library near me has a few comfortable spots—and being there makes it easy to look things up.
HOW DO YOU RELAX?
I have a harder time than most enjoying leisure, I think. There’s so much to do! And I sit a lot at my job so relaxing for me often means moving around.
DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE WRITING?
I wish I could. I get distracted pretty easily and start thinking about the song’s lyrics, or its meaning, or the artist’s life or something like that.
WHAT WOULD YOUR DAUGHTER (OR SON) SAY ABOUT YOU BEING AN AUTHOR, IF ASKED?
They don’t have much interest in my work, and I think that’s right. My kids are also both interested in writing, so I try to keep the focus there. I’ve heard people say that everyone likes talking about themselves, but that’s not true for me—I’m usually eager to pass the mic.
A FAVORITE INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE?
I’m a fan of Parnassus Books in Nashville.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING AT MIDNIGHT LAST EVENING?
I haven’t seen midnight in a long time.
IF YOU COULD CURE ONE DISEASE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
ONE BIT OF ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE AN INSPIRING AUTHOR?
Some readers will love what you’re doing, some will hate it, and the vast majority won’t care one bit. Tell the story that you want to—you’re the one who’s going to spend the most time with it.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON TODAY?
I’m working on a murder mystery about an energy startup. The prose is electrifying.