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Robinson, Ray - 'Jawbone Lake'
Hardback: 320 pages (Jan. 2014) Publisher: William Heinemann ISBN: 0434022039

Rebecca (nick-name Rabbit) is a witness to an apparent accident, in which a car skids off a bridge, and through the ice on the lake below, and the driver is killed. She sees that another car was involved, and she sees a person with a gun in his hands, before running away to safety. CJ Arms was the dead driver, and someone called Grogan was the person she saw across the lake, and he is now determined to find her and make her disappear. Rabbit has other problems, apart from being an unwelcome witness to a murder. She is wasting her life doing a boring job in a local factory, partly to block out the sadness she feels after the death of her four-month-old baby from sudden infant death syndrome. Will Grogan be able to find her? Why doesn't she go to the police and tell them what she saw?

Joe, CJ's son, arrives back home to be with his mother, and to try to understand how and why his father CJ died. But then the divers can't seem to find the body. Is he really dead? Or did he somehow manage to escape? Where had he been before the accident? He wasn't at the Golf Club, which is where he'd told his wife Eileen that he would be going. Where has all the money come from, the ?400,000 that is in his parents' joint account? What did he used to do when he went to Spain? And is that something to do with 'Beatriz', a woman who rings from Spain to commiserate about CJ with Joe's mother Eileen? Joe realizes how little he knows about his father. Can his ageing grandfather Bill help?

This is a rather strange book in which the tale of Joe, searching for the truth about his father, is interspersed with that of Rabbit, trying to come to terms with the death of her baby, the imminent disappearance of her girlfriend Kate, to University, and what she saw on the night of CJ's death. Eventually the two storylines merge. A little unevenly written - I initially found it quite difficult to engage with this book at all. But eventually, after persevering, the plot seemed to gather a bit of momentum, and I did manage to finish it. The two main characters, Rabbit and Joe, were slightly difficult to engage or empathise with, and the story a bit predictable. Overall not a great book, but with some interesting elements to it, and better than I thought it would be from reading the first few pages.

Michelle Peckham, England
September 2014

More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 9/10/2014 14:31