A teenage boy hunts for his mother’s killer in this Man Booker Prize-longlisted novel by “the true heir to the great Ruth Rendell” (Mail on Sunday, UK).
Just before Jack’s mother disappeared up the road to get help, she put the eleven-year-old boy in charge of his two sister. As they wait for her on the shoulder of the road in their stifling, broken-down car, the three children bicker, whine and play I-Spy. But their mother never comes back. And after that long, hot summer’s day, nothing will ever be the same again.
At fifteen-years-old, Jack is still in charge—supporting his sisters any way he can while evading social services. Meanwhile, a young woman across town wakes to find a knife beside her bed, and a note reading I could of killed you. The police are tracking a mysterious burglar they call Goldilocks, for his habit of sleeping in the beds of the houses he robs. But the woman doesn’t see the point of involving the police. And Jack, very suddenly, may be on the verge of finding out who killed his mother.
The Gold Dagger Award-winning author of Blacklands reaffirms her reputation for masterful, twisty crime fiction with this “unnerving suspense novel” (Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times).
The gripping opening of this uneven thriller from Bauer (The Beautiful Dead) finds 11-year-old Jack Bright and his two younger sisters left in a car on a British motorway by their mother, Eileen, after a breakdown one summer day in 1998. Losing patience, Jack ventures out of the car in search of his mother only to find a phone booth with a receiver left dangling off the hook. When the police eventually rescue the three siblings, Jack learns that his mother's call for assistance was recorded, but her words were cut off abruptly after she reported that someone in a car was pulling over to help her. Eileen is later found stabbed to death. In 2001, pregnant Catherine While scares off a stranger who breaks into her West Country home; later, she finds a knife next to a birthday card her mother sent her. The message in the card had been crossed out and replaced with the words "I could have killed you." The plot lines predictably overlap, but in a way that feels contrived. Bauer fans will hope for a return to form next time.