This Is How We End Things
By: R. J. Jacobs
Narrator: Chelsea Stephens
HighBridge Audio | Recorded Books
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.
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.
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.
Thank you, RJ, for spending time with us today!
"A tense and tightly-woven tale of danger and deception. This is How We End Thingsis both a captivating exploration into the psychology of lying, and a high-stakes, dark-academia thriller full of twists and secrets."
― Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author
"Experiments in deception turn deadly in this superb dark academic thriller by RJ Jacobs. With an intriguing cast of characters, all with secrets of their own, ever-ratcheting, pitch-perfect tension, and a killer on the loose, I could not read This is How We End Things fast enough. This is one addictive book."
― Mindy Mejia, bestselling author of Everything You Want Me to Be and To Catch a Storm
"A nail-biting closed-circle mystery…Jacobs keeps readers on their toes, wringing maximum surprise out of the twists and red herrings, and effectively molds his leads into three-dimensional characters. Riley Sager fans will be pleased." ― Publishers Weekly
"Readers won’t see the ending coming and will relish the red herrings and twists along the way." ― First Clue
"Readers of this psychological thriller will enjoy sorting through the complex alliances that lead to some surprising plot twists."
"RJ Jacobs' latest thriller has everything lovers of dark academia crave--a charismatic psychology professor, a questionably ethical experiment, and a group of students who can't stop lying. Right from its chilling opening, Jacobs ratchets up the tension and deftly reveals the secrets and true identities of everyone involved on the way to a page-turning climax. This Is How We End Things is a great read."
― Joshua Moehling, author of And There He Kept Her and Where the Dead Sleep
"RJ Jacobs delivers a gripping, pacey and compulsive psychological thriller leading readers on a dark and beguiling journey into what it means to lie and be lied to. Addictive and sharp as a knife, you’ll want to clear your schedule!"
― Christina McDonald, USA Today bestselling author
R. J. Jacobs returns following Always the First to Die with his latest thriller, THIS IS HOW WE END THINGS —a gripping, intelligent academia literary thriller of deception and suspense, following a group of graduate students at a prestigious North Carolina college exploring the psychology of lying, leading to MURDER.
Mystery Suspense Meets Clever Dark Academia Whodunit!
While the experiment is based on deception, someone among them is a killer in this locked-room suspense psychological thriller, full of twists and intrigue.
Set in the idyllic town of Forest, North Carolina, in the winter, we meet enigmatic Professor Joe Lyons at a prestigious college.
Five grad students are studying the art and science of lying. They are all hiding secrets. When one of them is discovered dead after an experiment, they are all looking at one another, now trapped by a snowstorm.
We hear from Scarlett, Robert, Chris, Britt, and Elizabeth. They all have their secrets and unique personalities. Joe also hires a new member, Veronica, a lawyer the team does not care for.
They all have been trained to lie, and will make the investigation even more challenging. The detectives can pick up a trick or two. Detective Larson is tasked to solve and discover the buried secrets of all the liars with King.
Will they kill again? Who is lying, and who is capable of murder? Who is the perpetrator?
Do liars get better over time?
Cleverly written, THIS IS HOW WE END THINGS is a perfect whodunit for those readers who enjoy clever campus mysteries. It has a creepy setting and a cast of intriguingly secretive characters. Whom to trust?
Thought-provoking and razor-sharp, Jacobs keeps readers in suspense and guessing with red herrings, wicked mind games, and unexpected twists in this high-stakes, riveting, clever, dark, academic locked-room suspense psychological thriller!
Being a North Carolina native, I loved the references to the towns where I have lived and the claustrophobic winter snowy campus atmospheric setting. Excellent character development, and I enjoyed the psychology of lying—INTRIGUING, a fitting title! I cannot wait to see what comes next.
I had the privilege of reading the e-book and listening to the audiobook narrated by Chelsea Stephens for an engaging performance for all voices. Fans of authors Carol Goodman, Riley Sager, and David Bell will enjoy this one!
Stay tuned for my #AuthorElevatorSeries Interview, Elevator Ride with RJ on pub date— where we go behind the book & the author! (My blog)
Thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark for an ARC and HighBridge Audio for an ALC via Netgalley for my honest opinion.
@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks
My Rating: 5 Stars
Pub Date: Sept 12, 2023