Underneath

Rated 4.19/5 based on 16 reviews
Look at the person sitting just across from you. It doesn't matter whether they’re a loved one, a friend, or a complete stranger.

Now look at their face. Are they happy? Are they sad? Or are they angry? Can you even tell?

How well do you actually know the people closest to you?

Have you ever seen the real person that lies just underneath what you see...?

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Words: 46,740
Language: British English
ISBN: 9781476457277
About Michael Cargill

I am a new author currently living in England.

Over the years people have often said that I should write a book so, in mid 2011, I did just that! My first few books are available for free and I hope that anyone who goes to the trouble of downloading and reading one enjoys it.

Feedback of any kind is always welcome.

Also by This Author

Reviews

Review by: Miss Sunshine on June 01, 2013 :
Gripping, hilarious, disturbing. The story of a psychologically unstable individual.
The story Underneath follows a disturbed man named Hugh with a love for squirrels and garlic flavouring. He is antisocial, violent and a complete and utter sociopath with no regard for those around him. In the past he has made attempts to take part in society with regular office jobs and participating in clubs, but it is never long before the cracks in his mask begin to show and those around him see the terrifying truth of what lies underneath. So when he sets his eyes on a beautiful girl on the train, who knows what disaster could ensue?
Meanwhile two police officers Robert and Clare spend their days patrolling and sorting out petty crime, it is only a matter of time before their paths cross with Hugh. The question is, who will come out on top?

I was totally hooked by Underneath from the very first page! Cargill managed to balance the line between sinister, entertaining and humorous very well. The first scene features Hugh walking around a park and his thought processes were so bizarre and frank that I was thrown, and from that moment on I had to keep reading. I was drawn in once again by the strong narrative voice which was a mixture of cynicism, humour and insight. It could be argued that Underneath dips slightly into satire at points with its comments on society and the way it pokes fun at its characters.
There may not be any super fancy sentence structures or massive words but for this sort of novella it is not needed. The writing pace is snappy and there were some brilliant descriptions, especially the ones of food (seriously, THEY MADE ME HUNGRYYYYY) and the imagery.
I did feel that some sentences were awkwardly phrased and could have been improved. A few sections became repetitive at times, for instance there was one big paragraph where every sentence began with the word ‘he’ which could have been enhanced by using some different synonyms, restructuring the sentences so they varied a little more or just leaving some ‘he’s’ out, but these kinds of issues were in the minority as most of the prose flowed smoothly! Although it may seem like I took a while to finish Underneath, this was simply because of the format (I don’t have a Kindle so I use my PC) but when I did get the opportunity to read it I didn’t want to stop because I was so immersed in the story, I finished it in three sessions.

The plot was great; there may not be any immediate action at the start of the story but there is definitely enough to reel you in, small incidents occur that make the reader curious about the mysterious main character Hugh and I loved how the further you got through the novella the more subtly serious the incidents got until they had escalated to dangerous proportions. Switching between Hugh and the two police officers perspectives was a clever idea and broke up the story well preventing the narrative from becoming repetitive. I thought it was a fun idea the way the author wrote the story so that the two groups just kept missing each other, sometimes by a matter of minutes without either party having a clue. I love it when storylines collide like that! For some readers the plot could be considered flimsy as it isn’t that complex, but I feel it works and the real reason to read this book lies with the fascinating characters, so I didn’t find this to be an issue.
I also loved how realistic the plot felt, I can imagine two police officers searching for a psychologically challenged individual out there right now and I think the little tidbits of social commentary on the UK police force really added to this. The comments on sexism and the misconception of race being linked to higher and lower crime rates were thoughtful without going overboard.

Hugh’s character is by far the most compelling aspect of this story. It would have been easy to just do a big info dump at the beginning explaining all his weird traits but Cargill is smart enough to make the reader work for it, slowly adding multiple layers. For instance, I loved his weird habit of picking up useless objects like some plastic straws, then half an hour later realising how useless they were, chucking them over his shoulder and carrying on, it was a great way of portraying how quickly his mood could change. We are never told exactly what is wrong with Hugh, he’s definitely a sociopath but there are some other factors like post-traumatic stress in there too and I liked the fact that we were never told his exact issue, it leaves the interpretation up to the reader and makes him more of an enigma.
The two police officers Clare and Robert were great; Robert’s supposed inability to go without food or tea for longer than an hour was hilarious and took the police doughnut stereotype to a whole new level, and I loved that Clare one of the only females in the story was the best in her police fitness training class and often shown to be in more control than some of the male officers (you go gurrrrrrl). The banter between the two of them was a lot of fun. Even some of the minor characters were hilarious.
The only critique I really have is that all of the characters had the exact same sense of humour, the mother of a druggy teen, the police officers and the sociopath while feeling like separate characters laughed and spouted the same cynical and crude type jokes as all the others, and this made them feel a little less well rounded.

I would recommend this book to anyone 16+ who likes crude humour (although I’m not a big fan usually but I still really like Cargill’s work), trying to work out the logic of bizarre and disturbed characters and those who enjoy thrillers. This is a great story to pick up for a quick, enjoyable read. :)

*Please note: This was originally reviewed on http://beckysblogs.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/underneath-by-michael-cargill-review-45/ and was offered to me in exchange for an author interview, book giveaway and an honest review.*
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Think on Nov. 24, 2012 :
Twisted. Demented. Bizarre. These are just a few words that pop into my head when trying to write a review for Underneath. Yes, that's right. My cup runneth over with adjectives to describe this novel. And yes, those words are a little scary. But there are also positive adjectives I could use. Mind-blowing. Thrilling. Brilliant. And if I could only pick 3 words to describe Underneath they would be: Timed to perfection.

Ok, so let's talk characters in this novel. Of course, the star of the show is Hugh. Hugh has a bit of an anger management issue and tends to have a very short term memory. Throughout the novel, Hugh escalates more and more. Just when you think he can't go any farther he does. It makes this book a remarkable read.

You think you know what's happening, then there it is. A reference to something you are pretty sure you remember being mentioned somewhere else. Perhaps the color of a car or the sound of someone laughing. That is my favorite thing about this novel. Cargill has weaved this story flawlessly. It is so interesting how small the world can be. And also how timing is everything.

This book was pretty much the total opposite of what I am used to reading. However, I highly enjoyed it and definitely recommend it. It is a tad gritty for my taste but I enjoyed the writing of Cargill immensely.

5 stars to Underneath for making me look at other people and myself a little differently.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Hock G. Tjoa on Aug. 21, 2012 :
This light read takes us firstly into the point of view of a mentally ill young man who is alternately clever and charming and then vicious and violent; this may or may not have been made worse by a family tragedy. In any case, he actually kills a teenager who had made the mistake of breaking into his apartment building; then he wraps the body all neatly in plastic and forgets completely about it as he goes about his dinner.

Secondly, a companionable pair of police, a man and a woman, run into him eventually as he is on another of his rage-fueled Mr. Hyde mode. The two police personnel also present a mild quandary--they were both going to sit for the exams for promotion, except that one of them knows she is distinctly more capable than the other.

Thirdly, the policewoman has something weighing on her mind--she is married and worries whether she should give in to her biological clock or pursue her career.

The drama is admirably restrained, the plot presents no major issues, and the writing is serviceable.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: sherry fundin on Aug. 19, 2012 :
Not only don't you know what people are thinking or feeling, they don't know what's going through your mind. I have thought before, as I was looking in someone's eyes not really listening to what they are saying, I wonder what they would think if they could read my mind right now.

As he wandered the city, one minute happy, the next so pissed off he wanted to kick someone's ass, he came upon a car with an expensive coat in it. When he broke the window to steal the coat, he saw it was a cheap knockoff. He was so pissed, he beat the hell out of the car. Was he insane? Some kind of anger issue?

When he began seeing Abigail, his thoughts and emotions were confusing, he was puzzled about what it all meant. It had just been the past few years where he admitted that he faked his thoughts and feelings to manipulate others, he had always been that way. He felt like the cyborg in Terminator 2 with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Fake being human. He could relate to the cyborg when John Connor tries to teach it to smile. It was different with Abigail. He knew he'd have to "fix it" but didn't know what he meant by that.

When he talks about Burnside firing the taser, it made me laugh. Wouldn't you just love to do that to some people?

At first I thought the rating on this book would be a two. But as I got 3/4 of the way through, it got me thinking more. I've had those times when for no reason at all I got ticked off over something minor and wanted to throw something of hit someone. Have you? If it wasn't for civility, I'm not sure how much we would let loose, let the anger flow out to reach whoever or whatever was handy at the time. When he talks about people's behavior online, it's obvious that the sense of anonymity people feel will cause them to act in a way they wouldn't do if face to face. Who knows how far we would go if given free rein.

The last 1/4 really started to lure me in and the last 10% had me racing through the words, not able to read fast enough to find what would happen next. I was desperate for Abigail to run - run for her life. My breath quickened. I almost felt her terror.

When he wrote "should men have their cocks surgically removed at birth, and only given back when they were old enough to use them sensibly...at around the age of eight five or so" I laughed out loud.

The excerpts from his website, at the end of the book, had me cracking up. Caught me totally by surprise, but don't be looking before you arrive at the end of the story.

With all that being said, the book was definitely worth the read. If you find it slow in the beginning, like I did, just hang in there because it does get better and has a good ending.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Tim Boyle on Aug. 10, 2012 :
I was a little hesitant at first to continue with this book. The first two chapters seem to take you right into the middle of these character's lives. By the third chapter the reader will be fully aware of what's going on and unable to put it down.

Hugh is a great character. He's similar to the famed Patrick Bateman; vain, handsome, athletic, suave, powerful, disturbed, and a few other things you'll have to read to find out. The man has everything we hate about ourselves wrapped into one person.

The story balances back and forth between Hugh's story as well as one between two police officers. The only negative thing I can say about this book is I was not intrigued by the sections about the police. The real money in this book comes from the parts about Hugh and his distaste for, well, everything.

Parts of this book are also very funny in a snide way. You will almost find yourself agreeing with Hugh as he's as human as a character can get. I look forward to reading more from the author.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Emily Reid on Aug. 05, 2012 :
Reviewed for 'Making Connections' on Goodreads.

Really good story, kept you hooked for the whole thing. Hugh seemed to be either sschizoprenic or have ADD which kept it interesting because he would constantly change his mind about how he saw things and would make snap decisions on what he felt like doing.
It was also good to see police officers as people rather than empty uniforms.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Austin Novo on Aug. 04, 2012 :
intriguing
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Edinah on Aug. 02, 2012 :
i didn't think i would finish the first chapter let alone the entire book.
this reminded me of the Curt Doglaus movie where the dude just lost his mind and went on rampage.
i like how i was atuned to this psycho's mind.
i liked it
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Angie Lenkevich on July 29, 2012 :
Hugh seems like your average hardworking man that is polite, takes care of himself, and goes to the gym to workout. Hugh seems to blend into the crowd unnoticed which suits him just fine. Constables Clare and Robert are hardworking police officers that are working on seemingly unrelated cases at the grocery store,local college, and missing teenage boy. Abigal meets Hugh on the train and the two meet up for drinks. Abigal briefly sees something lurking behind Hugh's eyes then thinks she imagined it. Abigal and Hugh become close which pleases Hugh. Constables Clare and Robert get a surprising lead from missing teenage boy's friend that he and his friends hang out at an apartment building. The boy says that a creepy guy chases them off. Will Abigal figure out what Hugh is hiding? Will Constables Clare and Robert solve their cases? Where does Hugh fit into all of this? Do you know what is lurking Underneath?
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Jill Marie on July 28, 2012 :
Underneath is one of the more unique and compelling books of it's kind that I have read. Michael Cargill is definitely an author to look out for. His writing style really captivates the reader and immerses them in the characters and story line. Cargill masterfully builds the tension through out the entire story, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat.
Hugh is quite an intricate and strange fellow to say the least. I really enjoyed his character and the satirical humor that goes along with it. Especially his incident with self service checkout-which I myself find obnoxious-and his use of the term 'slug'. Cargill has really created a character that will entertain and intrigue. Hugh's tendencies progress at an alarming rate and I was not at all surprised to learn he is plagued by blackouts. The author really knows how to get into the head of his characters, which is something I really loved about this book. The author really nails the portrayal of a sociopath and allows us a glimpse into their life. This book points out to reader's that we may not know someone as well as we think we do. It is very possible they have a dark side we have yet to meet.
The story takes place from two different points of view. That of Hugh as he wreaks havoc and that of the cops that are called in to handle the disturbances.
I enjoyed the cop's characters as well. Robert's passion for bacon sandwiches and his continuous banter with his partner really add to the story. The reader also finds that the cops share similarities with Hugh. Perhaps, one human's 'underneath' is not so different from another. If you want a wild ride of a book and a story that will keep you wanting more, I highly recommend reading this book and other's by Michael Cargill!
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Becky Chatelain on July 02, 2012 :
This book was disturbing just because there are really people out there like that. I loved the book !
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: JR Barker on June 27, 2012 :
This was a fairly short read, and an easy one too.

This story is cleverly written, it's rare that you can follow a character, get inside their head, dislike them intensely and then be completely surprised by a revelation that completely explains why they are the way they are.

Hats off to Michael for his clever character portrayals.

I recommend this to those that like crime, thrillers and interesting characters.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Alan Rhodes on June 24, 2012 :
I wrote the following review to appear on The e-reader House Facebook page

BOOK REVIEW - Underneath by Michael Cargill

This is the third of the book reviews we committed to as a way of saying `Thank You' when the page hit 900 likes. Initially I had been going to review another Michael Cargill book but after 'Underneath' was published last week he and I agreed I would switch and review this very new book.

It tells the story of a young man, Hugh, and his interaction with a number of people around him. Given the title and the product information I don't think I am giving too much away if I say that progressively the `Underneath' side of Hugh quickly emerges.

The book is approximately 122 pages long and I read it in one go - probably a couple of hours. The descriptions of characters, places and action are all good and the author has an excellent eye for detail, even allowing observational comedy to creep in without detracting from the story. The book is not a huge mystery or `who-done-it' style of suspense novel rather it is a well-crafted story about the different sides to a person's character and some of the influences on that character with enough of a `what is going to happen next?' element to keep the reader turning the pages.

In addition the story has a number of sides that start off in parallel but inevitably come together as the book progresses. One side introduces 2 police officers and the differences between them and Hugh, despite there being some `superficial' similarities, adds to the thoughtfulness of the book .

There are no real big sudden `twists' to the story which actually means that the relatively short 122 pages doesn't affect the detail that the author is able to go into.

That I got easily into the book and was happy to keep reading it testifies to the fact that I enjoyed both the story and the way it is written. I like books that are believable, set in the current times and that have a thoughtful approach to telling the story so this one was right up my street.

So for me it deserves a five star rating and a definite `good value for money' comment.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Alan Rhodes on June 24, 2012 :
I wrote the following review to appear on The e-reader House Facebook page

BOOK REVIEW - Underneath by Michael Cargill

This is the third of the book reviews we committed to as a way of saying `Thank You' when the page hit 900 likes. Initially I had been going to review another Michael Cargill book but after 'Underneath' was published last week he and I agreed I would switch and review this very new book.

It tells the story of a young man, Hugh, and his interaction with a number of people around him. Given the title and the product information I don't think I am giving too much away if I say that progressively the `Underneath' side of Hugh quickly emerges.

The book is approximately 122 pages long and I read it in one go - probably a couple of hours. The descriptions of characters, places and action are all good and the author has an excellent eye for detail, even allowing observational comedy to creep in without detracting from the story. The book is not a huge mystery or `who-done-it' style of suspense novel rather it is a well-crafted story about the different sides to a person's character and some of the influences on that character with enough of a `what is going to happen next?' element to keep the reader turning the pages.

In addition the story has a number of sides that start off in parallel but inevitably come together as the book progresses. One side introduces 2 police officers and the differences between them and Hugh, despite there being some `superficial' similarities, adds to the thoughtfulness of the book .

There are no real big sudden `twists' to the story which actually means that the relatively short 122 pages doesn't affect the detail that the author is able to go into.

That I got easily into the book and was happy to keep reading it testifies to the fact that I enjoyed both the story and the way it is written. I like books that are believable, set in the current times and that have a thoughtful approach to telling the story so this one was right up my street.

So for me it deserves a five star rating and a definite `good value for money' comment.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Ada-Lee on June 18, 2012 :
Ok I'll try this again...
What a terrifying premise. An anger management failure, psycho, with what seems like memory loss, he can't even remember why he walks from one room to another let alone why one thing set him off 5 seconds ago.
This is not someone you would want to cross paths with, EVER!
This took a bit to get into but, once we are introduced to the 2 " coppers" who investigate the swath of destruction left in his wake, Angela the college student who thinks she is in love, and Jane, the mom who is convinced that her missing son has been kidnapped the richly woven threads of this tale take a decidedly even more dastardly turn.
I loved the way this just descended into a black comedy of stalking, insanity and murder most foul, body dumping optional!
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Peter Howorth on June 17, 2012 :
If you want to read a book that you won't be able to put down until it's finished then you need to buy this.

The characters are actually interesting, they're funny, serious, relentless; you'll love them, you'll hate them, you'll feel sorry for them, the observational comedy blends in well with the story and the suspense will make you cringe at the possibility of what'll happen next.

For a first offering (for a novel) by an aspiring professional writer this is very well written and think the price tag is well worth it for the content inside.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

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