A murder in a country town is the backdrop for the story of three young people, Alice, Tom and Jonty, who are bound together because Alice's mother was murdered and Jonty is the suspect. This is a compulsive read from master storyteller Maureen McCarthy.
It’s highly unusual and at times too slow. But it’s got me thinking. And feeling…
The emotions ranged from the intense then soft and all else in between. Most their relationships are unconventional, complicated, should not work but still do. The lot of them are complicated interesting people. Initial descriptions of Jonty are of a boy with a bright future ahead of him, smart and good. Tom, too had everything going for him, solid family, good school and all that. But when 40 something Lillian enters these 18 year old boys lives, things got complicated. I have to say I was puzzled by what each saw in the other. But they worked, didn’t they?
Then later still, Tommo with his homecoming and facing what he’d failed to do. I understood what he did, understood, but still judged because like Alice I thought him a coward. But what’s to be said but that he did what he had to. And then there’s Jonty, whose experience touched me the most, but confused me the most as well. It’s his role that’s just all muddled. Do I like him? Feel sorry for him? Fear him?
I’m still trying to settle on whether I liked this because while initially I was clear on what I felt for them (Zero respect for Tom, sorry for Alice and even more sorry for Jonty, ) now, though? I’m just not so sure. Their story (for it certainly wasn’t just about a Lillian’s murder) is slow and complicated. Their story is about the after of it, specifically, of whether they'd moved on at all. Truly, none of them had. Take Tom who’d cut ties with the other. And Jonty whose shine had dimmed some. But most of all, Alice who’s a teensy bit bitter, a lot angry with a
A big part of the story is how different their relationships were. I got sucked into how Tom recounted his initial meeting encounter with a boy his polar opposite and later still of Lillian. As to the first, two boys with seemingly nothing in common, hitting it off and becoming fast friends is not that unusual. But it was the second that had me wondering more, these two befriend a forty something woman with whom they have an intense bond. But then the unthinkable happens, and then Tom does the unthinkable (unforgivable?) as well of cutting ties and forgetting. Only does he really?
Because there’s still Alice to consider, Lillian’s daughter, left behind and definitely angry, but not so sure about what to do about it. And when all of them start coming home, things get stirred up and even a tad more uncomfortable. Not only because of how unresolved things were or how conclusive Tom’s actions were, BUT because someone makes a love connection that just struck me as odd.
Don’t get me wrong, this is compulsively readable because there’s just so much drama going on as well as a mystery to be solved, but moments of it were just straight out odd for me especially with regard to Tom’s feelings for Alice. Were his feelings authentic ones or carried over from what he felt for her mother? And what on God’ green earth did she see in him? I plan to re-read this because I can’t still get a grasp on when things changed but that ending has me wondering if there is even a possibility of a them. But honestly I wonder if I really want there to be a them.