Friday, February 17, 2012

Book #9

A Thousand Cuts, by Simon Lelic. Hardcover.

A British school is shocked by a brutal shooting perpetrated by a teacher, who kills three students and a colleague before killing himself. The police are called in to perform a perfunctory investigation of the open-and-shut case. The murders took place at a school assembly, and were witnessed by hundreds.

But one investigator, Lucia May, the only female in her department, wants to dig further. She wants to uncover what caused the teacher to "snap." Her colleagues mock her for her tenacity, and her boss tries to warn her off the case. As she continues to dig, Lucia uncovers a culture of bullying, coming from both students and teachers, and officials choosing to ignore the bullying. This bullying and ignoring is reflected in Lucia's experiences in her police department.

This is an ambitious work, both in the subject matter and the prose style. The book is told in what seems to be a 2nd person POV, but what these chapters are, are Detective Inspector May's interviews. We are in essence "hearing" one side of a conversation, which puts us complete in Lucia's head. I am guessing that these sections make up perhaps two-thirds of the novel, while the rest of the novel is standard 3rd person format.

This is an ambitious first novel, and Lelic pulls it off. For as rich and deep as the work was, it read easily, but it leaves a lasting impression. I would enjoyed a more concrete conclusion, but I imagine that Lelic was not interested in giving readers a neatly wrapped-up story. I suppose the theme would not have been served by that.

Note: I heard about this book, and saw an interview of the author, on Adam Curry's Big Book Show app, part of his Big App Show app.

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