The Society of Unexampled Brilliance

Crime Grant Winner
4 out of 5 stars (13 ratings)

Regular price: £14.99

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Discover this Audible Original audiobook

When a young woman is savagely assaulted, the Jansen family find themselves increasingly involved. All four have secrets they keep from the police - and from each other. Johann is a disgruntled husband and planning an affair with a colleague. His wife, Sue, is a new member of The Society of Unexampled Brilliance and allowing its 'self-improvement' cause to take over her life. Rebecca, their daughter, is a teacher who moonlights for a private investigator, trapping adulterous men. And then there's Jack, still recovering from the nervous breakdown that ruined his time at university and immersed in the fantasy world of the novel he's struggling to write. As the investigation into the assault proceeds, we follow all four Jansens as they try to come to terms with both the vicious attack and its impact on themselves.

Audible New Writing Grant

Our first crime grant for new authors was announced last year and we received nearly 100 submissions for the prize of £10,000 for an exclusive Worldwide English language audio publication deal.

Praise from the judges
"It’s refreshing that the Paul has eschewed current trends in crime fiction and has chosen to put a family at the heart of his novel."
Mark Billingham, author of the Tom Thorne series

"The Society of Unexampled Brilliance features wonderfully drawn characters and intricately complicated relationships that were fully explored."
Clare Corbett, narrator of The Girl On The Train

"Myself and the other judges loved The Society Of Unexampled Brilliance and I can’t wait to hear it brought to life in audio."
Laurence Howell, Director Of Content at Audible

What members say

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Only Curiosity Dragged Me To The End!

Audible have steered me towards some great new authors recently so I was very much looking forward to this one. The setup sounded intriguing albeit a bit stretched, the Jansen family background is contrived to say the least. However, as the book developed it all just seemed to fall about around me, I'm still not even sure how seriously it was trying to take itself. I'm very used to the need for contrivance and occasional odd coincidence, even the best thriller writers use them. But this just felt like a different league. By the end I was resolved to follow the plot just about anywhere to find how it ended but only out of morbid curiosity. I've actually finished the whole thing with a feeling like someone just played a clever joke on me and everyone around me is laughing and I still don't get it.

So, with that in mind I am going to be absolutely fascinated to see what fellow reviewers make of it. I would say though that this really does rely on high levels of coincidence, a complicated set of twisted character motivations and very odd behaviour from the characters at times. To give an example without spoilers the way that Jack's last meeting with his father comes about is to say the least improbable. The odd "White Light" aspect of the Society just felt bizarre and wasn't fully explored.

If I'm being harsh and it's a case of me just not getting it then I apologise to Audible and the author, I did after all enjoy a couple of the characters and some of the writing. I just can't recommend the overall thing personally.

21 of 24 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Gripping family drama

I was quickly drawn into this intriguing and innovative family drama, The relationships between the Jansen family are complex; the author satisfying the reader by drawing in-depth histories for each person so the reader knows if their actions are in character and, more importantly, cares what happens to them. The vocabulary is very rich, full of imaginative metaphors and description, without being wordy. You can imagine yourself in the locations whether rural Norfolk or urban Croydon, I was so involved with the family's drama that I could have done without the story within a story of the Japanese characters-I was always very eager to return to the Jansen family as many chapters finish with a cliffhanger and you always want to know what will happen next.
The book has been classed as part of the crime genre, which may explain a couple of reviews; they may have been disappointed that this is not a fast moving action packed crime novel akin to Jack Reacher etc. Instead this is infinitely more satisfying, a intricately woven family drama which takes the time to richly draw its characters. General and contemporary would better suit this thoroughly satisfying book, and no, I did not predict the well constructed twists.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Gripping story lines that never let up!

Loved it, fab story, great characters, huge twist, fantastical ending, just go read it 😎

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

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RETURNING AS COULD NOT CARE LESS WHAT HAPPENED ..

I had great hopes for this book given the hype it got on Audible but it all seemed to me as colourless as the cover of the audiobook. The description of the book SOUNDS interesting but after wading through what seems like hours of dull day to day events of drab people I just have given up.
I SO wanted to like this and get involved but as the new Robert Galbreith has just landed in my library and after I so enjoyed the previous three and was instantly intrigued by them, I am talking the easy way out as life is too short to take a gamble by plodding on with it in the hopes of becoming fascinated.
It has been a few days since I listened and all I can recall is an old guy flying a kite on a beach and his wife belonging to the titular group and a bit about their children - who sound interesting in synopsis but were less than enthralling in closer detail. Oooh ...and a bit about epileptic fits which was educational to be fair.
Perhaps this is a brilliant slow burner but I get the feeling that my own life is more interesting than reading about these characters and what they get up to on a daily basis ...which is quite an indictment as not much of a challenge for fictional beings to accomplish.
I will follow reviews with interest to see if this lights many people's fire.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Inspiring, thought provoking and highly original.

A darkly complex family drama that slowly draws the listener in. Beautifully observed human characterizations- and with mainly different narrative strands that are skilfully woven to a very satisfying (and shocking) conclusion.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful