Another fantastic story by one of my fave authors; Belinda Bauer. I’ve been after this on kindle for a while but fortunately for me the price has just dropped to £1… so Snap it up, quickly!
On a roasting summer’s day in 1998, 11 year old Jack and his two younger sisters should be playing outside and gorging on ice cream. Instead, they’re stranded on the side of a busy dual carriageway in Somerset, waiting for their heavily pregnant mother to return from calling the emergency breakdown phone.
Jack has been left in charge and takes his responsibility seriously. As the minutes drift into hours, mum hasn’t come back. After dragging Joy and Merry along the side of the road in the unbearable heat, they eventually find the telephone, but mum is nowhere to be found.
Three years later and Jack is still taking responsibility for his sisters. After his mother’s body was eventually found, mutilated and abandoned with no-one the wiser to what happened, his father could not bear the weight of grief and disappears from their lives too. At 14 years old, Jack takes charge and cares for what remains of his family funded by a life of petty theft and burglary, all the while keeping the family home as a facade to deter social services by pretending to the neighbours that his Dad is merely away on business.
If that wasn’t enough pressure for a young lad to deal with, the police are closing in on his criminal habits. The spate of home break-ins are blamed on the “Goldilocks burglar”, who sleeps in the beds, has a bath and raids the fridges of the houses he breaks into. Jack only wants a glimpse into what it’s like to live in a normal family home, just for a brief moment.
One day Jack breaks into the wrong house. The occupants aren’t away on a mini-break, the heavily pregnant Catherine is actually home that night. He makes a swift exit, but not before spotting something which he knows, somewhere deep inside himself, was responsible for taking his mother’s life.
Catherine knows someone was inside her home, and after finding a knife with a threatening note in her bedroom, she can’t for the life of her figure out what’s going on and why she’s being targeted.
Jack and Catherine soon seek out each other and form an unlikely bond formed on mistrust, denial and the search for truth.
Another fantastic read by Belinda Bauer where the protagonist is a child. Even though Jack is angry, bitter and a thief, he is likeable and I found myself rooting for him from the beginning. Every other character he meets is immediately wary of his scruffy exterior, yet quickly trusts and respects him.
Catherine finds herself in a difficult position and you can completely empathise with her thought processes. She is happily married with her husband working away and is expecting her first child, so is in a vulnerable and emotional state. This young lad who has broken into her home and making devastating accusations would not normally be trusted – she should just call the police – but why is everything he says making sense? You can’t argue with logic.
I usually steer clear of books which focus on the detectives, but DCI Marvel (grumpy and unorthodox yet instinctive) with his team of DC Elizabeth Rice (casual and friendly yet messy and infuriatingly “un-feminine” to her DC partner) and DC Reynolds (incredibly fussy, particular and passive-aggressive… I can see myself in his character)are enjoyable to read about.
Defo worth a gander of you’re a fan of murder mystery thrillers, with a touch of comedy!