Monday, January 17, 2011

Review: Rupture by Simon Lelic

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Crime
Publisher: Picador, 2010

"It was monstrous, what he did, but he was not a monster."

"It's always easier to deal with the pain if you can twist that pain into anger, if you can lash out, if you can blame someone, even if they don't deserve to be blamed."

In the depths of a sweltering London summer, teacher Samuel Szajkowski walks into his school assembly and opens fire. He kills three pupils and a colleague before turning the gun on himself.

Lucia May, the young policewoman who is assigned to the case, is expected to wrap up things quickly and without fuss. The incident is a tragedy that could not have been predicted and Szajkowski, it seems clear was a psychopath beyond help. Soon, however, Lucia becomes preoccupied with the question no one else seems to ask: what drove a mild mannered, diffident school teacher to commit such a despicable crime?

Simon Lelic is a no-frills writer - his prose is simple and straightforward and yet it has an intensity that had me taking time out for a breather. But what makes this book really stand out is the format he chose. Between the chapters concerning Lucia's activities are what reads like transcripts of interviews with people connected to the crime - teachers, pupils and parents . There are at least twelve different voices , each giving their perspective on the crime and it's perpetrator , and the way the author has made each one a distinctive personality is amazing.

"Poor bugger: what am I talking about? He's a murderer. I keep having to remind myself. He was a murderer. He shot three children. He killed a teacher, an innocent woman. And I'm feeling sorry for the bloke. This psycho nutcase maniac. I'm acting like he deserved compassion."
Which is exactly how the reader starts to feel and the normal clear line dividing good and bad becomes increasingly blurred. With it's themes of bullying and issues of personal integrity it's more than just another crime novel and I hope it doesn't get overlooked by readers who shy away from that genre. It's very, very good and I highly recommend.

I put Rupture on hold at the library after reading Jackie at Farmlane Books recommendation - she included it in  her Best Books of 2010 list - and then tucked it away until the new year for this challenge.

Challenge 3: Blogger’s Choice: Find a “Best Books Read” post from a favorite blogger. Read a book from their list.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds fantastic, wow, and the unique style sounds like it was executed well.

    Great review