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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

A Child's Book of True Crime

This is Australian writer Chloe Hooper's first novel. Kate Byrne is a young Tasmanian school teacher who is having an affair with Thomas, the father of one of her students. Thomas' wife, Veronica, is the author a best- selling true crime novel about the murder of a local young adulteress. Kate is obsessed with the story and believes that Veronica has got it wrong. Kate retells a child's version of the murder, narrated by Australian animals (Kitty Kaola, Terrence Tiger, Wally Wombat, etc). When Thomas and Veronica's son, Lucien, starts producing violent imagery at school Kate fears he may have been exposed to violent images at home while his mother was writing the book. Her retelling of the story may be a way of helping to moderate the effect of the exposure. Ellie, the young adulteress in the children's story, is held in high regard by the animal community. As the novel progresses, word of Thomas and Kate's affair spreads throughout the small town and unsurprisingly the human community there does not hold Kate in similar high regard. Kate begins to unravel as the sex and violence escalate and her judgment becomes questionable. Is her life in danger or does she have an overactive imagination?
This is an erotic thriller that veers off in interesting and unusual directions. Veronica's true crime novel, the animal's version and Kate's own story are all entwined. In less skilled hands three different story lines might confuse or overwhelm the reader but Hooper juggles them with agility. I look forward to reading more from Chloe Hooper.

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