Saturday, 11 February 2017

Book Review: RATTLE by Fiona Cummins

Rattle by Fiona Cummins

Title: Rattle
Author: Fiona Cummins
Pan Macmillan Australia
February 2017

Synopsis (Goodreads):

A psychopath more frightening than Hannibal Lecter.

He has planned well. He leads two lives. In one he's just like anyone else. But in the other he is the caretaker of his family's macabre museum.

Now the time has come to add to his collection. He is ready to feed his obsession, and he is on the hunt.

Jakey Frith and Clara Foyle have something in common. They have what he needs.

What begins is a terrifying cat-and-mouse game between the sinister collector, Jakey's father and Etta Fitzroy, a troubled detective investigating a spate of abductions.

Set in London's Blackheath, Rattle by Fiona Cummins explores the seam of darkness that runs through us all; the struggle between light and shadow, redemption and revenge.

It is a glimpse into the mind of a sinister psychopath. And it's also a story about not giving up hope when it seems that all hope is already lost.

My thoughts:

Three missing children and a creepy man who calls himself the bone collector form the centre of this chilling debut novel by Fiona Cummins. I will not go too deeply into the storyline for fear of giving away spoilers, only to say that the author has done a great job in bringing a child's worst nightmares to life in her creation of a disturbed serial killer, who works tirelessly to continue the family tradition of collecting human skeletons for the ossuary he inherited from his father. Rattle, rattle, there are bones in the cellar! The more unusual the better – this is the reason he selects victims with rare bone disorders or deformities that would make a fascinating addition to his collection. Young Jakey, who suffers from the rare disease fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, is a perfect target. As his muscles, tendons and ligaments slowly turn into bone, his skeleton becomes a more and more attractive collector’s piece for our man. The only problem is that Jakey is still alive, but that has never been an obstacle for the bone collector.

With a thread of menace and darkness running throughout the novel, the storyline played out in front of my eyes in sepia colours with wisps of mist wafting through black streets and wrapping itself around houses and trees, some of its characters stepping straight out of a “Carnivale” type nightmare bordering on the bizarre. The virtual leap into the bone collector’s lair was reminiscent of my worst childhood visions of the bogey man hiding under my bed at night, waiting to chop off any body part that dared to protrude from the safety of my blanket. Creepy! But whilst the details skirted the fine line of "too much information", Cummins managed to pull back before overstepping the mark that would deposit this book into the "horror" instead of "murder / mystery" genre. In fact, I thought her characterisation of the mentally ill bone collector was very well executed, which lent substance to the story rather than just shock factor.

Etta Fitzroy as lead detective is an enigmatic and sympathetic protagonist, who made up for all the other -generally rather unlikeable – characters, and I can see her forming the centrepiece of future novels. True to form, she has all the flaws and tortured mind that make for an interesting fictional detective violating rules and constraints in order to get the job done and to see justice served. I struggled a bit to bond with any of the other characters, though the battles Jakey’s parents face every day in raising a child with disabilities are well drawn. Apart from a few loose threads that I felt needed tying up, the novel flowed well, though some readers may find the ending unsatisfying. I actually thought it was a fitting finale, keeping up the general theme of darkness and menace until the very end. All in all, a promising new voice in crime fiction and potentially the start of a new series featuring an interesting female detective with many more cases to solve. Definitely worth checking out!

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

No comments:

Post a Comment