Reviewed by Rod McLary
This is a new author for me even though he has written six books now and each one has been successful. It is always a positive to find someone new and one whom you can enjoyably read through his/her back catalogue.
The genre of crime/thriller is perhaps one of the most popular and equally one of the most competitive in popular literature. The giants of the genre are well-known – names such as Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Kathy Reichs – and as well there is an emerging group of authors who are gaining in reputation and quality of writing. Some of these authors have been reviewed in these pages – Jane Harper, Emma Viskic, Chris Hammer for example. Now here is a new crime writer to add to the list.
While a crime lies at the heart of The Curfew, the real focus of the novel is the relational dynamics of the Boyd family and the tensions and mistrust created by the lead-up to and the fall-out of the crime. At the apex of this swirling maelstrom of lies, obfuscations and evasions is Connor – sixteen-year-old son of Dr Andy Boyd and his school teacher wife Laura. Connor has a twelve-year-old sister – Harriet – who rather fortuitously is a rather precocious genius in IT. Her genius becomes significant as the plot unfolds and leads her into a serious life-threatening situation. In a rather clichéd plot device, five teenagers walk into the woods late one night but only four come out. As the title suggests, curfews have been broken and consequences flow.
It is not uncommon that, to fully enjoy some thrillers and crime stories, the reader must be prepared to suspend disbelief. With The Curfew, that can sometimes be a challenge. It seems that Andy and Laura are prepared to compromise their professional and personal ethics, risk their continuing employment, withhold evidence from the police and even lie to them if it means that they can protect their son. As the story unfolds, it is increasingly apparent that Connor, in spite of his high-achieving well-behaved persona, may be more involved in the crime than he admits and more than his parents are prepared to acknowledge even to each other.
But of course, it is not a thriller unless there are unexpected twists and turns which will take the reader up more than one blind alley. These are largely done quite well although one does wonder how a group of sixteen-year-olds learned to be so devious and manipulative.
The Curfew is narrated by Andy so much of the story is from his perspective and the reader experiences vicariously the agonies of a father confronted with the suspicion that his son has committed a heinous crime and the refusal of others to accept his view of Connor. His struggles with this suspicion also lead to opening up some cracks in his marriage and in his relationship with his brother whose own son – Zac – also happens to be Connor’s best friend and one of the five teenagers entering the woods. The family relationship aspects of the novel add an interesting narrative to the story.
For readers of the crime genre, The Curfew is a worthwhile addition to their library.
by T. M. Logan
Allen and Unwin
ISBN 978 183877 602 2