Normally I keep my book reviews on Shelfari, you can see my often disjointed thoughts there, but after finishing the book this past Saturday, I realised the book was still with me.
In the novel, which I won’t go into great detail describing, the story is told from a first person point of view of the man who is one of the DAs of the small town and his son is accused of killing a fellow classmate. What follows is a somewhat discordant story where time bounces back and forth between present, past and future. It isn’t until the end of the book that the reader realises that some sequences have yet to occur.
The father maintains throughout the story that his son is innocent, the evidence never truly stacks up to point to one specific suspect. The family is strained greatly by the accusation, both financially and emotionally. The psychiatrist they consult with proclaims the child to be utterly unable to be empathetic. This causes him to never reflect upon the power of his actions. There is a wonderful reveal, with no consequences, where the child’s best friend tells the father the child had a dog, the dog went missing and then was found dead. Killing small animals is a hallmark of a serial killer.
The crime drama continues to unfold, the child finally being found ‘not guilty’ when a known paedophile commits suicide and admits in his suicide note that he did it. This strains believability, for the reader and the family. The family leave for a vacation trip after the father confronts his convict father about the unusual circumstances. It is clear the father believes that his father had the man killed and admits he did something he didn’t do.
Interestingly, the book broaches the topic of bullying, something we hear as a buzz word a lot these days. The child who was killed was known to be bullying the child who may have killed him. Once the family leaves the town, being exonerated of all charges, they go on a short vacation to the islands. The child befriends another little girl, then after a few days, she goes missing. No one suspects anything, but her body washes up on shore days after they’ve left, the girl having been drowned. It certainly could have been an accident, but the mother, who shows great strain from the trail, doesn’t believe it was an accident.
What was so masterfully done in the book is that the time lapses that occurred never hint to the ending until you reach the end. The author, in a very underhanded way, makes you believe the story ends one way, but he takes a bold approach, killing off the mother and child once the mother realises the child is indeed a heartless killer. The courage she displays is amazing and the flash-‘backs’ were actually transcripts of the father on the stand for the wife, who is on trial for manslaughter.
I myself have started to dabble in the writing arena, my big admission for the day, and when I got to the end, it was like a light bulb went off in my head. You can kill off major characters, despite what we’ve learned from Stephanie Meyer, Suzanne Collins and even the perfect JK Rowling. In most of my favourite series, be it Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, the concept of sacrifice in a situation that requires it, but isn’t given, like, say, the ending of the Twilight saga, leaves the reader feeling like it wasn’t worthwhile. Even at the end of Harry Potter, I do sometimes wish that Ms Rowling had killed Harry, or Ron (oh how I loathe Ron), but she didn’t. And yes, Harry lost a lot of people he loved, but what if he had died? I grant you, writing a children’s book with that sort of ending would be impossible, but would really set the stage for a realistic ending. If you do something on a grand scale, you don’t survive unscathed, no one does.
I may be veering off on a tangent, or already have, and my three faithful readers may have long stopped reading, but it was an interesting lesson to learn, and goes to show, book clubs have a purpose besides making new friends.