Author: Liz Jensen, 2012.
Genre: Science Fiction/Horror. Psychological Thriller. Folklore.
Other Details: Paperback. 307 pages.
A seven-year-old girl puts a nail-gun to her grandmother's neck and fires. An isolated incident, say the experts. The experts are wrong. Across the world, children are killing their families. Is violence contagious? As chilling murders by children grip the country, anthropologist Hesketh Lock has his own mystery to solve: a bizarre scandal in the Taiwan timber industry. Hesketh has never been good at relationships: Asperger's Syndrome has seen to that. But he does have a talent for spotting behavioural patterns, and an outsider's fascination with group dynamics.
Nothing obvious connects Hesketh's Southeast Asian case with the atrocities back home. Or with the increasingly odd behaviour of his beloved step-son, Freddy. But when Hesketh's Taiwan contact dies shockingly and more acts of sabotage and child violence sweep the globe, he is forced to acknowledge possibilities that defy the rational principles on which he has staked his life, his career and, most devastatingly of all, his role as a father. - synopsis from UK publisher's website.
This proved to be a very unsettling story in which a series of seemingly unrelated acts of sabotage coupled with attacks on adults by pre-teen children herald a melt-down of civilisation. The narrator Hesketh seeks an answer to why this might be happening now while dealing with personal issues linked to his former girlfriend and her son.
Like her previous work, The Rapture, Jensen explores the concept of a coming apocalypse. Hesketh's Asperger's Syndrome made him a very interesting narrator; already an outsider he is able to appreciate the differences and similarities in various cultures making him a useful trouble-shooter and able to piece together events dispassionately.
I found this a very compelling tale with a very disturbing premise in terms of the strangeness of the children. I appreciated the way that the folklore of various countries was integrated into the plot. Jensen did not leave her readers wondering but provided an intriguing reason for the events. I enjoyed it very much.