review by showhost
Finalist in ‘John Creasey Dagger Award’ in the Specsavers Crime thriller Awards for best first novel 2010. Fav author is Cormac McCarthy.
The book has a very unusual style. I had to re-read the first page before I got the gyst of it. We learn at the outset that a teacher shoots 3 pupils, a colleague and himself. As far as the police are concerned the teacher, Samuel, was a psychopath, it was a tragedy that could not have been predicted. So get the statements, write the report & wrap up the case with out fuss. Lucia May is the policewoman assigned to the case.
The story opens with a monologue. It is a one sided interview with a pupil. We read the answers not the questions. Lucia May interviews 15 people, children & adults, teachers pupils & parents. All the interviews are written in this monologue style. They are interspersed with a normal narrative when Lucia isn’t interviewing, when she is back at the police station or with friends.
What comes out of the interviews is the abuse the perpetrator suffers at the hands of pupils & bullying from colleagues and you actually start to feel sorry for him You feel it almost justifies what he did.
At the time of the shooting thee is a pupil from the same school recovering in hospital after a brutal attack. An attack which happened outside of school but the attackers were possibly fellow pupils. Institutionalised bullying runs through the story, including Lucia. Parents almost accept it as something they have to live with. The headmaster is portrayed as someone who makes the colleagues & pupils stronger ‘Get on with it lad’, stiff upper lip’.
The interviews are cleverly constructed & the voices portray the character of each person, painting a picture of them in your mind. Some of the revelations are shocking.
I found it a good, unusual book. It would be very good for a book group discussion as it certainly raises questions and makes you want to talk about it & definietly gets a reaction from the reader (at least it did this one).