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Radio 2 Book Club - Bad Men

The latest book to be featured on the Zoe Ball Radio 2 Book Club is Bad Men, the twisty and funny feminist thriller by Julie Mae Cohen. The book was released on 20 July and you can listen to the full-length interview between Zoe and Julie right now on BBC Sounds.

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Bad Men

Saffy Huntley-Oliver is beautiful, charming, rich, and in her spare time she’s a serial killer. For the past fifteen years she’s been hunting down and killing bad men: rapists, murderers, domestic abusers. As a hobby, it’s not as Instagrammable as baking, but at least it’s better for your thighs. The problem is, that it’s hard to sustain a healthy, balanced heterosexual relationship when you’re expecting to have to kill your boyfriend at any moment. She’s lost her faith in mankind.

That’s why she’s decided to look for a good man instead, preferably one who shares her interests. Jon Desrosiers, with his campaigning podcast, perfect bone structure and adorably messy hair, could be just the guy for her. As the creator of a hugely popular true-crime podcast, he has to delve deep into the psyches of monsters, though he’s always been on the side of justice.

So begins a tale of obsession as Saffy uses every trick in the book to get her man. Regardless of the cost to human life…

Selection panel review

The book was selected with the help of a panel of library staff from across the UK. Our readers loved Bad Men – here are some of their comments:

“This was proper black humour. Written in a light, engaging style with lots of quirks and humour, yet dealing with serial killers, death, revenge and all the bad stuff in life. Really well edited so that the pace was brisk, the characters real and the intrigue always there. It’s a revenge novel; all the bad men are killed off by an avenging angel. She’s clever, calculating, a self-confessed sociopath, and yet we feel empathy and respect for her. Even though it feels like we know what’s going on and who is being manipulated for what purpose, there are still plot twists to maintain interest. Really enjoyable, very easy to read, plenty to discuss.”

“This is a really punchy, funny and engaging read. It is a feminist thriller with unusual not always likeable main character: as Saffy is very much an anti-hero; clever, cunning and a ruthless killer. The novel is very funny as Saffy embarks on a mission to seek a boyfriend. It was a delightful and enjoyable read really easy to get into (I read it over a weekend) I feel that the book would appeal to the radio listeners and I can even see it as a TV show. A fun read for warmer days.”

“Absolutely loved this book. It was definitely my favourite out of all the books allocated to me. I couldn’t put it down and almost read it in a single sitting. The story is fun and the characters are very likeable (even the serial killer). It’s like a feminist version of the TV show Dexter. The twist at the ending was a surprise and I didn’t see it coming. The book isn’t as dark as I was expecting and the subject of child abuse is hinted at but not described in any way. It’s written as a dual narrative but I admit that I preferred Saffy’s narrative to Jon’s. I love the justification she gives for the killings and her bloody war against the patriarchy. Saffy has been killing bad men for 15 years: rapists, murderers, domestic abusers, dodgy MPs. I was cheering in her corner to be honest, especially when thinking about all the times I’ve been frustrated and angry with the way women are treated.”

About the author

Julie Mae Cohen is the darker, funnier side of Julie Cohen – an award-winning, million-copy bestselling author. She is an Associate Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Reading and a Vice President of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and a founder of their Rainbow Chapter for LGBTQ+ writers. She lives in Berkshire, UK with her teenager and a terrier of dubious origin. Bad Men is her first thriller.

Get involved

You can also listen to the full-length interview between Zoe and Julie on BBC Sounds.

You can share your thoughts with us on Twitter using #R2BookClub and you can also follow Julie.

Planning to buy Bad Men for your group? Buy books from Hive or from and support The Reading Agency and local bookshops at no extra cost to you.

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