Tuesday 3 June 2014

The Boy That Never Was - Karen Perry

This was an interesting read that kept me keen throughout but that just missed a 4 star score from me. The story opens in Tangier with Harry trying to cook a birthday meal for his wife, getting it ready for when she gets in from work. He is also looking after their young son Dillon. In a shocking move he drugs the young boy, puts him to bed and realises that he has forgotten to collect the birthday gift, so he leaves the child along in the flat and rushes off to collect the gift. While he is gone a natural disaster destroys his home, presumably with Dillon inside.
The scene then shifts forward a number of years to Dublin, where Harry and his wife Robyn are still trying to come to terms with the loss of their son. Harry becomes convinced that he has seen the child in a crowd in the city and begins to behave erratically putting additional strain on the relationship.
The story contains a number of twists one that I had anticipated pretty much from reading the blurb, and one that I didn't see coming; the twisting plot line was well done and I think alternating the chapters between Robyn and Harry worked really well at adding layers to the story.
However I did still have a few issues and it is these that prevented me from ranking the book higher. Firstly I found the continuance of the relationship between the couple to be deeply unlikely. Over the course of the story it becomes clear that Robyn had discovered that her husband was drugging their son, and that she was unhappy enough about this to throw him out. Despite this she apparently took him back, and then continued to stay with him even after she believed that his negligence (and repetition of drugging of the child) led to Dillon dying alone in a horrific way. This seems to be unlikely in the extreme. If nothing else I thought that the relationship between Harry and his In-Laws would have been more strained, as they were portrayed as being much less accepting of the death of their grandchild that Robyn was. The judgements I was making about Robyn as a mother, somewhat coloured my acceptance of the final section of the novel. Which brings me onto my second issue, the ending.
The story comes to a climax with some pretty damn huge revelations, and in the interests of attempting to avoid spoilers as much as possible I will try to avoid discussing these in depth. Huge revelations followed by drastic and dramatic action; and yet the momentous nature of this climax seems to fizzle away to something of a damp squib. Things all work out reasonably well, Robyn returns to somewhere where Harry had been previously happy with her family, and although some issues are mentioned almost in passing; there certainly didn't seem to be as much of a reaction in terms of repercussions as I would have thought. As is the case sometimes with this style of thriller that twists and turns it's way to a BIG climax, it read a little as though the author (authorS in this case) had been told to provide a nice bit of summing up, but to get it done rather sharpish. I thought this let the rest of the story down, and it would have worked better it the climax had come and then left the reader to draw their own conclusions instead of giving this unsatisfying, by-rote ending. A real shame, as this was an enjoyable, if rather implausible story, up until that point. Despite the issues I had with it, I am sure that it will please Sophie Hannah fans and that it would make a great holiday read

1 comment:

  1. I could not put the book down from the start. It was written so cleverly as it drew the reader in chapter after chapter. The blurb did also give away to me what the dark secret was; it was just a matter of coming to that part in the book. It had great twists, one so sad I did not expect. And I, too, was let down by the ending to the point I was actually disappointed and confused by it. A great book but the ending was a let down, I'm afraid.