• Keely B

Brave fictional weaving together of fallout of a mass shooting

Gives the reader real pause for thought. In all the headlines and tweets and snatches of opinion coming from everywhere these days, this is a very well-written and extremely well-researched novel, focused on the points of view of several of those caught up in a mass shooting tragedy. Brave too, to imagine getting inside the heads of such a disparate group of characters at this moment in their lives and doing it so believably. The author chose very wisely with her sources as you get a strong sense of the chaos, frustration and futility of such an investigation; the lack of psychological closure for all concerned, including the police force. It really is 'power to the people' as the fallout from collective fears and mass hysteria, one little comment or article can now whip up is formidable. Huge plaudits must go to the editor as well for helping to craft a brilliantly constructed narrative (it was this which tipped it into the five star bracket for me) as the 'hidden truths' were divulged, both large and small. I even liked that the main antagonist, certainly the main living one, was not permitted any personal back story and the possible sympathy it would allow, as if his actions were too grotesque to be excused no matter what was in his past. One little suggestion at the very end of the book is all we get and it's not followed up and for once that seemed apt. Unless of course, Ms Askew is planning a Grant Lockley spin-off which will have us all in tears - I rather suspect not. There are some truly lovely descriptive observations, especially at the beginning of the book, but there are a lot. At one point, I did feel there were almost too many that, ironically, it took me away from the narrative. Too much of a good thing can start to pall and become slightly a case of the author proving how wonderfully she can write, which she most definitely can, but this is a tiny niggle in an otherwise thought-provoking work.

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