Friday, April 20, 2012

Book Review: The Child Who by Simon Lelic

The Child Who is a novel about a small-time defense attorney who answers a chance phone call and winds up with a case that gathers national media attention.  Leo Curtice is assigned the defense of twelve year old Daniel Blake, who is accused of killing a young girl.  But the media frenzy leads to a community who wants blood for the horrible crime and soon Curtice finds his family threatened.

I was impressed with the writing right up until the end of the book, when the final plot twist just killed it for me.  The ending ruined everything about the writing for me - the suspense of the novel, the reason for caring about the characters, everything.  Because the book is told in flashbacks, we know from the beginning that Curtice's family has been torn apart by the case - his daughter has been abducted and never found.  The entire book hinges on this, and then (highlight to see spoilers): at the end there is a miraculous discovery that magically fixes everything so the family can be a family again.I was not pleased.

But other than that, I found the writing to really be nice and lean towards the literary side of things, which is always nice in a thriller.

Entertainment Value
It's not a thriller, but I was definitely in suspense over the ending until I actually reached the ending.  I won't say that I hated the book, I was just really let down.  While I was reading, I was loving the story.  I liked the twelve year old boy as a character (I have thing for evil children) and I really liked Leo Curtice and the position he was put in where he had to choose between his duty as a lawyer/the largest case of his career and his responsibility to protect his family.  I just really disliked the neat ending.  The book was real and gritty and harsh, but the ending took away from that and made it really trite.

It's a good suspense book.  And I loved that it leaned more towards an introspective, literary plot than a chop 'em up, gory, murder fest that many thrillers become.  It left me tense and anxious to see what would happen.  But then when it wrapped up and the secrets were revealed, I was greatly underwhelmed.  I feel like readers who enjoy a neatly tied up ending will be put off by the literary aspects of this book and those who are attracted to the literary aspects will be put off my the very simple ending.


  1. I have not seen good reviews of this one. I do want to try SimonL this year though.

    I liked how you put your opinion without it being a full turn off review.

    1. Thanks Marce - it really wasn't a bad book. The ending disappointed me, but my experience reading the book was largely positive - I just felt like the ending overshadowed my enjoyment of the majority of the book.

  2. Oh dear ... I hate when the ending ruins a perfectly good book. Urgh!