Is it just paranoia, or were you the ones that were meant to be dead?
For some reason I can't look upon this book as a true crime novel, something about it just doesn't allow me to place it comfortably within that genre. It feels too close to reality, too credible a tale, too close, in fact, to what has probably happened all over the world in every 'civilised' nation. True enough, there is the brutal slaying of a family - it's horrific, but nothing totally outlandish in this day in age. Witnessed by the teenager from next door who lives to tell the tale (or in this case, keep it to himself for as long as possible, like you would), adds a scarily vulnerable twist. How many of us let our teenage kids hang out without knowing exactly where or what they are up to?
The point being, as they say, that everything really happens after the murders. It is after the dust has been kicked up that particles begin to settle on different shapes as the inevitable ripple effect casts its net over the victims' neighbours' lives - and the disturbing thought that: maybe the killer got it wrong, maybe the intended victim was them?
Jim and Ellen are on the surface, doing ok for a married couple. Sure, they have their problems, the odd spat, but who doesn't? Their teenage son, Derek, is essentially a good kid - even if he was planning on using the next door neighbours’ empty house as a love-in for him and his girlfriend. Then, the murders, and the gloss that had covered so many blemishes is ripped off. Not one of this family doesn't have a secret. But when Derek is charged with the murders, Jim realises that if he doesn't get to the bottom of things, no one else will. Having started unravelling the mystery of the murders though, it becomes apparent that the secrets each of them hold close to their hearts are all connected.
Barclay writes with great panache and an understanding of the nuances of modern day life and relationships. All this culminating in an entirely enjoyable, occasionally funny, occasionally shocking story that deserves to be read.
We interview C J Daugherty about Night School
- 10 January 2012