A disturbing premise is set out in the prologue and indeed the cover. A child has killed both her parents with scissors. A child is struck by lightning. There are lies.
The story is not always easy to follow. There are fragments from the past that don't don't make sense until half way through the book. Two women tell their modern-day tale, one in the first person present tense, and some kind of deception gnaws away at them both. There is also a third unknown letter writer who knows a lot about the case. But, as the story goes on, not everything is right. And now the new identity of the killer has been exposed and so the case surfaces again.
This book is well written, poetic in places with great imagery and depth of feeling. Inspired by the child murderer Mary Bell, the tale explores the after effects of such a heartbreaking crime and how those connected to it try to rebuild their lives. Being ordinary is the goal here. But there are untruths that bind together those involved.
The only thing that seemed a little out of place was the minister who was dealing with the political fallout of the case, more particularly the affair he was having. Perhaps the point here is consequences, cause and effect that happen to those who are not traditionally criminal. Not sure of the purpose and the story would not miss this thread if it were not included. However, the 'media scrum' of reporting finding and the competition is very engrossing.
A fascinating read that takes a different perspective. Recommended for those who like psychological fiction and the social impact of child murderers.
Published by Pan MacMillan on 15 April 2021.
Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.