Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Book Review One: The Dead of Summer, Camila Way

It's summer so I thought why not pick a good murder mystery with summer in the title - that and the blurb of this book, "This summer everything will change. By the end of summer, three will be dead" intrigued me and seemed to be right along my theme of summer reading: "Seriously Disturbed Crime Novels".

This time, we're following 13 year-old Anita, a Pakistani girl whose mother has recently died & the family has shifted to London and is falling apart. Her father is disintegrating into alcoholism and her siblings are growing up and ignoring her, only ever referring to her as the "nit". Left to her own devices, she befriends the local outcasts: Dennis, her classmate who has severe mental difficulties & Kyle, a psychotic boy on the verge of adolescence whose sister vanished a year before. In the blistering heat and with a trickling feeling of impending doom building at every corner, they become "sort-of" friends, dependent on Kyle's mood. However, by the end of the summer three children will die at one of their hands, leaving Anita the sole survivor of the infamous "London Cave Murders" of 1986.

The story of the summer of 1986 is told through Anita narrating their summer to her counsellor, seven years later. She is deeply traumatised by what she witnessed and what the killer put her through in the cave and only feeds you little pieces of information, interspersing it with her summer of adolescence prior to the murders & her burgeoning love for the deeply troubled Kyle. There are twists and turns throughout and the ending is one of the most shocking this year, but looking back, it all makes sense, in a very dark and disturbing way.

What a cracker of a debut novel, slithering and seething through you, giving you the chills even though the heat is constantly highlighted. Anita is a deep character, so beautifully described and so hopelessly lost and Way's graphic writing really draws you into the time & era. With sickening twists and a very bleak feel to the entire novel, this isn't for anyone - it is for someone wanting to be challenged as they read, yet still enjoy reading a truly good mystery that's from an author who promises she has a lot more to give. I absolutely loved it, it thrilled, chilled and inspired me to seek out more.

Next time, I promise something a little more fun.

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