The Four Stages of Cruelty: A Novel [NOOK Book]

The Four Stages of Cruelty: A Novel

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook - First Edition)
$7.99 price

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429927055
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 12/7/2010
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 539,324
  • File size: 367 KB

Read an Excerpt

I can think of no gentle way to begin.
I need to explain why the biggest mystery for me was not how an inmate could go missing inside a maximum security penitentiary, nor what the drawings meant, or even who was involved in the murders. The thing that stays with me, like the memory of a limb now gone, is the mystery of human compassion. The twisted variations of it, the love and the hurt, the obsession and the neglect, the abuse and the need, all commingled and bound. Although I am as cynical and skeptical as can be expected, given my experience, I am not one to deny that genuine relationships can form between inmates and corrections officers. I do know, however, that those relationships are almost universally based on some form of trade, a commerce of getting by. You need them as much as they need you, and I will admit that debts accumulate and sometimes must be paid off in ways that compromise what you think is right. This can happen to any of us.
My name is Kali Williams. I doubt that my parents, when they changed a few letters in the more conventionally spelled Kaylee, knew they were naming me after the many-armed Hindu goddess of darkness and destruction. But out of that dull midwestern instinct to be safe but slightly different, I sprang: a personality of sharp edges and bruising elbows.
If this were just a story about Ditmarsh Penitentiary and my work within it, I would probably start by discussing the routine and even the incidentally interesting aspect of being a thirty-nine-year-old female—one of only 26 women on a corrections staff of 312—providing daily operational security over 950 (plus or minus) hard-core assholes, sex offenders, addicts, liars, serial felons, white-collar dick suckers, gangbangers, and relatively honest murderers. I enjoyed my job. I liked the bang and clang of the cellblocks, the armored ease you needed to show in getting by, the acute attention to psychology and mood. For the most part, the bullshit bounced off me, the rat-a-tat routine of jokes and looks, the subtle grind of male criticism disguised half-assedly as helpfulness. I never questioned the right and wrong of the work—it was pretty goddamn clear to me, and still is—but there were times when I got stuck wondering how I’d become this person who wore the belt and jangled the keys and relied on the way the quick decisions got backed up by the remorseless rules. Nothing good came of those moods, however, and I avoided them as much as possible. I have an irritable impatience for the overly steeped, self-pitying emotions of anyone with too much time on their hands, including, and perhaps especially, myself.
This is not about my job, though, or about me; it’s about what happened, and all those mysteries I mentioned, and the mystery of compassion most of all. Even when I found the body dangling from a door in the abandoned cells beneath the prison, so terribly abused, it was the absence of compassion, the lack of pity in the place, that hit me hardest. Though surrounded by the dark output of violent lives, I had never before seen the ravages of such unrestrained brutality. I forced myself to edge past, pressing up against the cold wall where the scrawled drawings were most tangled, in order to see the face. In that dead gaze, was I the delayed rescuer or another tormenter? I’m not sure I can answer without sorting through the events that led up to it. As I said, I can think of no gentle way to begin.

Copyright © 2010 by Keith Hollihan
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)