A Shock to the System Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of A Shock to the System

Graham Marshall is a man on the edge. At the age of forty-one, he awakens one day with the realization that he hates everything about his life. He hates his irritating and suspicious wife Merrily, he hates their children and her mother, he hates his house, he hates his financial situation, and he hates the fact that the job he has worked for for twenty years is being given to a yuppie named Benham.
Click here to see the rest of this review

On the night that he is informed of Benham's promotion, Graham encounters a beggar on a lonely foot-bridge. The beggar's mistake of adressing Graham as a success causes him to snap. Graham kills the old man with his umbrella and dumps him in the river.

Returning home, Graham slowly comes to the realization that he has gotten away with murder, and that he could do so again if he wants to. Painstakingly, Graham plots his wife's demise, finally killing her in an electrical "accident" while he is away in Brussels.

With his wife's death, Graham's life begins improving. He turns his children over to their aunt, sells his home, and begins dating Benham's secretary. But Graham is not happy. He wants the job that Benham is set to receive, and he now has a few skills that his rival is unaware of.

As the body-count grows and Graham sinks deeper and deeper into megalomania and sociopathy, a policeman begins snooping around. Has Graham committed the perfect crime? Or has he forgotten one crucial detail?
The review of this Book prepared by James Craver

Chapter Analysis of A Shock to the System

Click on a plot link to find similar books!

Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 20%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 30%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 30%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 20% Tone of story    -   Dry-cynical Time/era of story:    -   1980's-1999 Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book The crook is....    -   stalking/killing innocents Crime Thriller    -   Yes Is MAIN CHARACTER an EVIL criminal?    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   business executive Age:    -   40's-50's Ethnicity/Race    -   British Unusual characteristics:    -   Cynical or arrogant


Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   England/UK Water?    -   Yes Water:    -   sail boat City?    -   Yes City:    -   London

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths Explicit sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references    -   descript of kissing    -   actual description of sex Unusual forms of death    -   poisoning    -   frying (electrocuted)    -   blunt clubbing (like seals)    -   exploded into bits Unusual form of death?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

Books with storylines, themes & endings like A Shock to the System

Simon Brett Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
2 Ways to Search!

Our Chief Librarian