My name is Cleo and I’ve blogged at Cleopatra Loves Books (http://cleopatralovesbooks.wordpress.com) for almost four years and in that time I’ve read and reviewed a whole heap of crime fiction. So when I was asked to choose a summer read to recommend, I had many fabulous books to pick from.
I read all types of crime fiction (and some other stuff from time to time) from Agatha Christie to the newest names on the block. The book I’ve chosen stood out, not just because it’s set in a wet British summer or by the sea, which is always a bonus as I live in Jersey, CI which is a tiny island and therefore surrounded by water, but because despite having plenty of dead bodies it was also a very appealing book and one that had me chuckling in places, which isn’t what you necessarily expect from crime fiction.
Unusually for a crime thriller The Facts of Life and Death is narrated by Ruby Trick, a ten year old girl.
This perfect summer crime read is set in a wet Devon summer, the year the killer came to Limeburn where Ruby lives with her mother, who works in a nearby hotel and her father who has no job. Ruby’s father is a cowboy fanatic and keeps himself busy meeting up with other cowboys in the area but now he has a mission, to catch a killer. Meanwhile Ruby is writing daily in her ‘dairy’ recording the ups and downs of her life which always include her weekly copy of Pony & Rider and a mars bar bought with her pocket money.
The killer that is terrorising Limeburn is a brutal one, he snares defenceless women and then gets them to strip before calling their mothers to hear them losing their life. The absolute horror of both the poor women being murdered and their poor mothers really hit me hard.
I love this story (although I’ve heard it is the author’s least favourite of her own books) because of the juxtaposition of the crimes which are brutal and seemingly senseless, and Ruby’s innocence; her worries about the bullies, going to big school and her father are so realistically portrayed and yet the book avoids becoming overly sentimental because at heart Ruby has more strength than she realises. Despite the horrific killings it is full of humour, I particularly loved Ruby’s school teacher Miss Sharpe bought into full technicolour by the author’s brilliant writing.
So if you want a summer crime read that is about finding a killer but also captures something wider, you could do far worse than pick this book. The Facts of Life and Death brings into focus one child’s life, one which for me was evocative of my own childhood in many respects thereby adding a layer of nostalgia to a brilliant read by a hugely talented writer.
Cleo’s orginal review can be found here:
The Facts of Life and Death can be purchased from Amazon here