After a three-day weekend away I´ll have to cut corners because I have just read an extremely exciting story which fits this week´s letter. Besides I cannot write a traditional review of Mo Hayder´s Gone anyway as I read it over four days without taking any notes – and left it at home. So now I am in my cottage assisted by nothing but my unreliable memory.
Mo Hayder, Gone (2010)
The fifth Jack Caffery story begins when a man steals Rose and Jonathan Bradley´s car while eleven-year-old Martha is sitting on the backseat. Initially the police are certain the thief will panick when he sees the child and leave her somewhere to be found. Soon Caffery is told by Sergeant Flea Marley, the leader of the underwater rescue team, that this has happened before, however. A man wearing a Santa mask has stolen cars with little children in but got cold feet and run off.
And from now on everything changes as Caffery and his team realize they are searching for a man who shows an uncanny interest in children.
We meet a couple of children who are or have been the victims of the masked man, but also the teenage sister of Martha. Young Miss Bradley (no, of course I don´t remember her first name) turns out to be a real teenager even though she is the vicar´s daughter so one of the first things that happens when her little sister disappears is that she tells her parents that she needs a smoke. And in true teenage fashion she squirms whenever her father tries to help by acting normally, and it is very difficult for her to give up her disparaging attitude once in a while to show that she is indeed concerned and feels very sorry for her grieving mother.
Have you noticed that we meet remarkably few teenagers in crime fiction? (Or is that just me picking the wrong books?) No, I think I am right, and I suspect that is because most writers know how difficult it is to strike the right language and the attitude. An amusing example from CrimeFest in Bristol was the Scottish writer Helen Fitzgerald who told us that she paid her teenage daughter to help her get it right.
Finally, as this also counts as my review, I can tell you that I was engrossed in the exciting drama from the very first page. Scary, but wonderfully free of graphic violence. I bought the book myself.
Have you read crime novels featuring teenagers recently? Did their language and behaviour strike you as convincing?