Review From User :
This is on the Man Booker Prize Longlist!!!
Belinda Bauer weaves a dark, atmospheric and bleak crime story in the style of the darkest of fairytales, set in the West Country in Somerset. It is inhabited by a Goldilocks burglar, a child so traumatised, that he is drawn to homes with their pictures of happy families, living their lives of security and love, the antithesis of his own sorrowful, despairing and traumatised life. He is known for sleeping in children's beds of the homes he breaks into. On a sweltering day in 1998, 11 year old Jack, his younger sisters, Joy, and toddler, Merry, leave their broken down car to see what is keeping their pregnant mother, who had set out to phone for help. There is no sign of their mother, until days later when her discarded body is discovered stabbed on the side of a road. The impact on the family is harrowing, unbearable and devastating, the father descends into a pit of pain and grief that he loses his job, losing his bearings that he cannot cope with looking after his children, and never returns home after leaving to go to the store.
The burden of looking after his siblings falls upon Jack, as he schools his sisters to pretend that their father is still in their lives in an effort to avoid being split apart by being taken in by social services. It is 2001, and Jack is now 14 years old, tasked with trying to feed his sisters, and handle the outside world. Their home is filled to the rafters with walls of newspapers, amidst which the children burrow and live. The hairless saviour, fence, thief and liar, Louis Bridge proves to be an invaluable help to the young Jack, as Jack finds himself living on the edges of society, surviving and providing for his family by acquiring the skills of a cat burglar. That is until the day he sees the incriminating knife that he is convinced killed his mother in the home of the pregnant Catherine While. Jack doesn't care about being caught, he wants his mother's killer to be arrested much more. DCI John Marvel has been banished into the wild backwaters of Taunton Police after transgressions committed in the London Met. He is certain he can return to his former life if he was to succeed in solving high profile murders. He sees his path to glory by solving this cold case murder and makes a deal with Jack. The two join forces as they chase down the maker of magical knives in their search for evidence to bring down the big bad wolf, a ruthless killer.
It takes a little while before the multiple threads in the narrative begin to connect, so please persevere because this a story you do not want to miss. Bauer writes a hugely compelling novel, impressively plotted, with original and eccentric characters from Louis Bridge to the unassuming character creating the unique magical knives that clients hunger for. At the heart of it all is a family, drowning in misery and unrelenting pain, their future crushed by the inhuman act that deprives them of a loving mother and wife. The courageous and brave Jack holds his family together against all the odds, driven by a fury and determination to see justice for his beloved mother. A brilliant and beguiling read of a quest to nail a killer and keep a family and its sanity together. Highly recommended! Many thanks to Random House Transworld for an ARC.
On a stifling summer’s day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. Jack’s in charge, she said. I won’t be long.
But she doesn’t come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever.
Three years later, mum-to-be Catherine wakes to find a knife beside her bed, and a note that says: I could have killed you.
Meanwhile Jack is still in charge – of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they’re alone in the house, and – quite suddenly – of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother.
But the truth can be a dangerous thing . . .