…by John Boyne.
Set in 1930s England, this story starts with the funeral of Owen Montignac’s uncle Peter. Owen is left disappointed when he learns that his cousin Stella inherits everything from her father (disappointed because he expects to inherit the wealth from the uncle, given the patriarchal tradition back then and given that his uncle did not have any living son). With the question of why his uncle didn’t include him in the will constantly at the back of his mind, he tries to move on with life when he is asked to repay a huge debt, which he had incurred gambling, in a matter of months.
Gareth Bentley, son of a prominent judge, is a law school graduate who spends his days at home doing nothing. Irked by his father’s constant push to join him in his chambers and do something responsible with life, Gareth decides that law is not for him and resolves to find some other career path. The night of his birthday he goes out with his friends for drinks and meets Owen through a mutual friend.
Owen and Gareth get talking and Owen offers a job to Gareth at the art gallery that he works for. During their acquaintance they end up tangled in robbery and Gareth eventually ends up as a prime suspect in a murder.
Gareth’s father is involved in a committee of few select members to discuss and decide on a matter of national importance. With that issue involving the King on one hand and the question of his son’s life or death on the other, he is now faced with the predicament of his lifetime when he is blackmailed to give up one for the other.
What happens? How does Gareth end up in jail for murder? Is he innocent or guilty? How does Owen play a role in all this? Does Gareth’s father choose his integrity, the future of his country or does he choose his son’s life? All this and more is answered in the book.
This book was a nice and easy read. There is enough mystery to keep the reader guessing about something or the other at any given point. There is not much of a question involving who committed the crime; rather it is the question of whether or not he gets away with it. And bringing it all together neatly to link it to a conspiracy surrounding the country’s most prominent figure only leaves the readers more engrossed. Apart from the big picture, there a few other secrets that get thrown in between, which are sure to keep the reader engaged all the way through. The writing is lucid and easy to follow. The pace of the book is slow, at least in the beginning, but that doesn’t take away from the positives.
Overall, a page turner that I highly recommend.
If it weren’t for the ending, I would give this book a 5*…I can’t see eye to eye with the author for ending the story the way he has done it.
My rating: 4*.
*for the rating scale, click here.