Author: Simon Lelic, 2010
Genre: Contemporary. Crime Thriller.
Other Details: Hardback. 256 pages
History teacher Samuel Szajkowski walks into a crowded assembly in a North London school and opens fire, killing three students and a fellow teacher before turning the gun on himself. D. I Lucia May is given the case and is expected to wrap it up quickly and quietly as the perpetrator is clearly identified and was obviously a psychopath to do such a thing. However, as Lucia begins to piece together testimonies of the staff and students, a more complex and much uglier picture of the school environment and the period leading up to the shooting emerges. Was Szajkowski really a psychopath or was there something else going on that could explain his actions? She begins to come under considerable pressure from her colleagues in the police force but refuses to abandon her quest for the truth.
This is a stunning début, one of those novels whose subject matter could be plucked from the news headlines. Lelic switches between a third-person narrative of Lucia's investigation and a variety of first hand accounts of the events given to her. It's a technique that is highly effective, giving the narrative a very immediate feel. He writes with an economical style that still manages to convey great depth in terms of the central story and characterisations. I found it totally engrossing.
Author: Linwood Barclay, 2009.
Other Details: Hardback, 368 pages.
His daughter's gone missing. And that's just the beginning. - cover blurb.
When Tim Blake's 17-year old daughter Sydney fails to arrive home at her usual time, at first he isn't too concerned thinking that she may have gone to the mall after her shift ended at her summer job. However, he becomes increasingly worried as hours pass and she fails to answer her phone. He goes to the motel where Syndey has supposedly been working and is told by the staff and manager that she has never worked there. As days pass with no word from Sydney, Tim comes to realise that his daughter is a stranger to him. He begins to retrace her steps, searching for clues about her secret life and uncovers a darker side to the town he always though of as ordinary.
Linwood Barclay appears to be producing one of these highly readable action-packed thrillers per year. I've found them all easy, escapist reads that are very hard to put down until the central mystery is solved. I did feel that he was somewhat more restrained in terms of coincidences in this outing.