In her fiction debut, Deborah Levison, author of the acclaimed, multi-award-winning true crime book THE CRATE, weaves a tale snatched from the headlines. A NEST OF SNAKES is loosely based on a spate of lawsuits in which adult men accused their elite private schools of abuses that shocked the nation.
Brendan Cortland is a broken man. Middle-aged, pasty, pudgy, and fearful, he suffers from chronic depression, nightmares, and agoraphobia. His contact with the outside world is limited to trolling chatrooms, where he hunts pedophiles, and a weekly session with his psychiatrist, to whom he describes dreams of being devoured by predators. The doctor suspects catastrophic abuse and maybe something more, but in all his years of therapy, Brendan never divulged the deepest source of his trauma.
Pushed to his breaking point, Brendan embarks on a quest for justice. It’s the terrifying step he’s avoided for decades: going public with his story. His lawyer warns him that testifying might mean dredging up painful memories, ones he’d rather keep buried.
Still, no one is prepared for the horrible secrets and revelations that emerge during the trial … least of all Brendan himself.
Reviewers call A NEST OF SNAKES “heart-wrenching,” “raw and compelling,” “unforgettable,” and “a roller-coaster ride of surprising twists” leading to a “staggering climax” and an “absolutely perfect” ending. Monster Librarian hails A NEST OF SNAKES as one of the fall’s most talked-about novels.
Evocative, timely, propulsive, unforgettable... A NEST OF SNAKES is the King Cobra of suspense, striking when the reader least expects it. Levison is a rising star in the thriller world. —K.J. Howe, international bestselling author of Skyjack
A heart-wrenching story of abuse and complicity... With exceptional dialogue and an utterly compelling and gripping cast of characters, Deborah Levison delicately handles trauma and pain while keeping the reader coiled in anticipation for the perpetrators to receive their punishment. A powerful read from a dazzlingly talented author. —Samantha M. Bailey, USA TODAY and #1 national bestselling author of Watch Out for Her
A NEST OF SNAKES is a raw, compelling story of abuse and all those it leaves in its wake. The protagonist, Brendan Cortland is a character for our times, damaged, strong and courageous as he faces the demons of his past and himself. Levison’s ending was unexpected and absolutely perfect. This book will stay with me for a long time. —Colleen Winter, author of The Gatherer series
A NEST OF SNAKES is a beautifully told story about a horrible series of events that forever changed the lives of those involved. Heartbreaking, beautiful, jarring, and eloquent, Deborah Levison's novel spans decades and continents to speak of both the frailty and the strength of human nature. Be sure to set aside some time when you pick up A NEST OF SNAKES because you won't put it down until you've finished it. —Desmond P Ryan, retired police detective and author of The Mike O'Shea Crime Fiction series and The Mary-Margaret Cozy series
In her debut novel, A NEST OF SNAKES, Deborah Levison boldly tackles a tough and timely subject: private school abuse. Part thriller, part courtroom drama, this gripping story is told in searing prose that propels the reader forward, right up to the last, jarring page. —Gary M. Krebs, author of Little Miss of Darke County: The Origins of Annie Oakley
A NEST OF SNAKES is a massive leap from Deborah Levison's THE CRATE, which was an incredible true crime read. Its gut punch immediacy and emotional heft entrances the reader in a thriller that follows a sympathetic character who survived a horrific trauma in a boy's school. The jagged road that leads to a staggering climax propels the story forward like a rocket through a barbed wire gauntlet of emotionally-wrought drama, thrills, and deep characters that refuse to let go. A story both timely and powerful, Levison's strong writing should be one of the fall's most talked about novels. —David Simms, author of Dark Muse and Fear the Reaper
A compelling courtroom drama and a wrenching look at the horrific underbelly of an elite private school in the 1980s, Deborah Levison’s impossible-to-put-down new novel, A NEST OF SNAKES, takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride filled with surprising twists. Lawyer Dylan James is a woman you’d like to have in your corner, and plaintiff Brendan Cortland’s quest for healing will linger long after you’ve closed the book. —Deborah Kalb, writer, editor, and book blogger
Levison delivers a harrowing story of one man's fight for justice as he confronts the demons from his past. Haunting, suspenseful, and beautifully written, A NEST OF SNAKES is a disturbing look into abuses of power by those we trust the most. —Anne K. Howard, author of the award-winning true crime story, His Garden: Conversations with a Serial Killer
Brendan Cortland is a broken man. Broken by abuse as a child at an exclusive boarding school and the shame he felt. But in Deborah Levison's skillfully told novel, Brendan finds his path to redemption, first by tracking abusers online, and finally by going public and accusing his own tormentors. Heartfelt and horrifying, A NEST OF SNAKES is a story that must be told, and remembered. —James R Benn, author of the Billy Boyle WWII mystery series
A NEST OF SNAKES is a taut and intelligent psychological thriller that will keep you reading well past your bedtime. Levison’s story and characters hook you and don’t let go. —Tammy B. Bottner, award-winning author of Among the Reeds
From a master of storytelling, Deborah Levison’s new novel A NEST OF SNAKES does not disappoint! I couldn’t put it down, and constantly toggled between shock, righteous anger, and awe while reading. It makes you realize there is much more to news headlines, and brings to life powerful, complex and nuanced characters as well as an important topic. —Asha Dahya, TEDx speaker, producer, and author of Today’s Wonder Women
A NEST OF SNAKES is full of twists and turns, several of them absolutely unthinkable, as Brendan recalls in court the physical, mental, and sexual abuse he endured at a private boarding school. After hearing some real-life horror stories concerning boarding schools on the news, I have to say this is a must-read for anyone who appreciates a good tale of psychological terror that could just as easily be true. —Donna Marie West, author of Next in Line and The Mud Man
Imagine strolling in a lush green field, when suddenly a snake rears from the grass and startles you. Deborah Levison's novel A NEST OF SNAKES grabs you from the first paragraph and takes you on a mesmerizing fictional journey... Reserve a few hours to read this novel… like a snake that traps its prey, this novel will seize your imagination until the last page. —Lauren Adilev, biographer, Turn Write This Way
In her novel, A NEST OF SNAKES, Deborah Levison weaves a suspenseful tale filled with psychological and legal insight... The book explores the long-lasting effects of childhood abuse, the evil perpetrated by those who abandon their responsibility to protect victims, and the path to healing. It packs an emotional punch that will stay with you long after you finish reading. —Ruth Rotkowitz, author of Escaping the Whale and The Whale Surfaces
If you’re like me, you’ll keep reading this book until the middle of the night, and even then, you’ll want more! A NEST OF SNAKES is a propulsive page-turner, filled with twists and turns that will keep you guessing to the very end. Levison’s writing is a gift. A must-have for your TBR list. —Sylvia Jacobs, book blogger
Can a broken man who has lost almost everything find justice and cut through the nightmares that plague him? Deborah Levison – who is no stranger to exploring the dark shadows of reality – takes an unflinching and powerful look at horrific and unspeakable abuse in this emotional roller coaster ride of a debut novel. A NEST OF SNAKES opens with a lightning-fast strike and the intensity, compassion, and raw emotion of the story compel the reader forward, eager to see if escape, justice, or answers to the haunting trauma are possible. —Mark Leslie, author of Fear and Longing in Los Angeles
Deborah Levison's page-turner A NEST OF SNAKES is a thoughtful, well-written and compelling exploration into the perennially vexing issue of child sexual abuse and the failure of adults to see and act. —Meryl Ain, author of The Takeaway Men
A deftly-fashioned new brand of justice… this debut novel is book club worthy! Let’s hope A NEST OF SNAKES is the first of many more thrillers from Deborah Levison. —J.L. Hughes, Author and Owner/Editor of Writers and Authors Craft Developmental Editing
Levison never gives her readers’ imaginations a dull moment! Terrific plotting and characterization make her writing a joy to read. Discovering Deborah Levison has been a real pleasure. I, for one, will be keeping an eye out for her next book. —Reader’s Favorite Reviewer