2012 Thriller

The Child Who by Simon Lelic

The Child Who

Five words from the blurb: murdered, schoolmate, solicitor, defend, dilemna

Simon Lelic’s debut novel, Rupture, is one of my favourite books from the last decade. I wasn’t as impressed with his second, The Facility, but I was still keen to see what his new book would be like. The Child Who falls some where between the two. It is a fast paced, gripping read, but it lacks the depth and originality of Rupture.

The book centres on a solicitor who is called to defend a twelve-year-old boy accused of murdering a girl from his school. His job is made more difficult by the high public profile of the case and the way his family are increasingly affected.

The Child Who has far more commercial appeal than his previous books. It reads like a British version of Jodi Picoult, complete with the moral dilemma and the court room drama.

It was so compelling and easy to read that I read it in a couple of short sittings, but on ending the book I felt a little disappointed. The topic had potential to be thought-provoking, but I came away without feeling my viewpoint had been challenged. Each decision made by the characters seemed easy and the ending felt out of proportion and unrealistic. I wish it had contained a subtler character study instead of just being endless dialogue and action.

‘Well,’ Leo said. ‘There’s no denying it was a terrible crime. But the boy – Daniel – he hasn’t been charged, not officially. He’s barely spoken. And anyway it’s hardly our place – ‘
‘Did he do it, Leo?’ This from Stacie.
‘Surely they wouldn’t have made the fuss they did if they weren’t sure he did it?’
‘Now, Stacie, you know I can’t…’ But already her eyes were leaching disappointment and Leo was loath to let down the crowd twice.
‘Yes,’ He said. ‘I would say he did it. There’s not a doubt, if I’m honest, in my mind.’

I think I’m only disappointed because Simon Lelic has previously set the bar very high. This is an entertaining read and I recommend it to fans of lighter thrillers.


The thoughts of other bloggers:

The Child Who is a powerful and heart-wrenching thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat and drag you, emotionally, into the thick of the plot. This is, without doubt, Lelic’s finest work to date. Reader Dad

I found it hard to become involved in the novel: none of the characters engaged my sympathy, and although the author attempts to create psychological understanding for the crime, I felt this was somewhat superficially treated… Petrona

…Almost a 5 star read for me. I did enjoy it, although the subject matter is dark, but in the end its middle ground between literary fiction & crime fiction made it not quite enough of one or the other for me. Novel Heights




12 replies on “The Child Who by Simon Lelic”

There seems to be a rash of really bad children in fiction lately. They seem to be one of the major concerns of thrillers/mysteries etc. this decade. I wonder what that says about us.

cbjames, It probably doesn’t say anything good 🙁 Haven’t there always been bad children in literature though? I don’t know – I’d love to see the statistics.

I think I’ve said it before, but Picoult is one author in whom I have no interest whatsoever, so you lost me with that comparison! I do have a copy of Rupture though, and since that’s still your clear favorite, I do wonder why it is I haven’t read it yet! 😀

Steph, I thought you avoidance of Picoult was a personal issue – in which case this would be the perfect opportunity to see how she writes without having to read one of her books 😉

Very nice review, and thanks for linking to mine. I absolutely loved Rupture, so I was rather disappointed by this – seemed rather bland and unoriginal as quite a few authors previously have addressed this grim topic, & The Child Who did not really seem to be adding anything.

Maxine, I agree it didn’t add anything new to the subject. That is the problem with those of us who read a lot of books – we are harder to impress. Such a shame

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