The Child Who by Simon Lelic

A classy, compelling and thought-provoking thriller – utterly superb

“A community is left reeling when twelve-year-old Daniel Blake is discovered to have brutally murdered his schoolmate Felicity Forbes.

For solicitor Leo Curtice, the case promises to be the most high profile – and morally challenging – of his career. But as he begins his defence Leo is unprepared for the impact the public fury surrounding Felicity’s death will have on his family.

While Leo struggles to get Daniel to open up, hoping to unearth the reasons for the boy’s terrible crime, the build-up of pressure on Leo’s family intensifies. As the case nears its climax, events take their darkest turn.”

This is the first book I’ve read by author Simon Lelic.  It’s a legal thriller tackling the shocking subject of murder of a child by a child.  Usually this is not a subject matter I would pick to read about, but Lelic explores the personal and societal impact of this a horrific murder in a small community with such sensitivity that it’s hard to put the book down.

A slick and atmospheric narrative told predominantly through the point of view of Leo, the story shows a man torn between the conflicting demands of a complex case and the needs of his own family.

As he gradually wins the trust of his young client Leo becomes fixated on understanding why Daniel committed the murder.  So determined is Leo to do the right thing for his client he fails to recognise the strain the case, and the community reaction, puts on his family, especially his teenage daughter Ellie. As his support to Daniel increases, and his decisions around his own family’s safety become more erratic, the boundaries between work and personal life become entangled with terrifying consequences.

Leo, like each of the characters in this chillingly emotive story, comes across as a very real person.  He’s intelligent and caring, yet remote to the ones he loves and flawed in judgement.  As the reader, you see the impact the case is having on him, you see the impact on his family and that he’s slowly alienating them, and you feel his sense of duty, his fatigue, and his distress at the huge personal and professional cost that events bring about.

It’s a compelling, thought-provoking read, and certainly in the top five books I’ve read so far in 2011.

‘The Child Who’ is scheduled for release by Mantle in January 2012

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2 Responses to The Child Who by Simon Lelic

  1. Pingback: Review: The Child Who by Simon Lelic « Romancing for Thrills

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