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Walker, Sue - 'The Reckoning'
Paperback: 400 pages (Feb. 2007) Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd ISBN: 0141017511

When Miller McAllister was a young boy, his father, Douglas, was jailed for the murder of three local girls. Now Douglas is dead, but Miller is just starting to come to terms with what happened to his family all those years ago. And Douglas has left Miller one last surprise. A letter written on his deathbed, which changes everything for Miller, who now starts to question his father's guilt for the first time. Could he really have been a victim of a miscarriage of justice?

Set on the coast of Eastern Scotland, north of Edinburgh, and on Fidra, an island in the Firth of Forth owned by the McAllisters, this novel takes full advantage of the setting, giving a spooky sense of place and otherworldliness. It is peopled by a believable, if not always likeable, set of characters, all finely drawn, and sets up a number of suspects for the original crimes. All of the characters have dark places they would rather not reveal, and are the more interesting for that. The strained relationships in the family are also well written. It's a detailed picture of a family torn apart by tragedy and held together by sticking plaster.

The plot kept me enthralled right to the end, by which time I was right behind Miller, who was perhaps not the most endearing of characters. It's a testament to how well the book was written that I kept reading when he was being obnoxious.

A remarkable novel from a writer I shall look out for in the future.

Pat Austin, England
June 2007

last updated 8/12/2007 15:30