I live in Bristol UK literary fiction and crime are my books of choice and when not reading I like to run
John Cameron has returned to the school of his youth in his new role as headmaster. He is a man with a troubled past, increasingly disturbed by the frequency and darkness of his dreams, desperately needing the love of his wife Emma, both badly shocked by their own personal tragedy..."a new house would be good for her, help her to heel more quickly".....
His colleagues at school are somewhat adversarial to the new Principal and reluctant to adopt to change that Cameron is keen to introduce. His attention is drawn to the fragile Jacqueline McQuarrie and he is saddened that his predecessor Reynolds did little to promote or help the interests of a child with acute special needs. Cameron recalls a time in his youth when with his father's help he rescued a boy who faced abuse on a daily basis....."Completely naked the raised ridges of his ribs pushing through his skin. He was crouched in a nest of straw like a small bird and then he stood up, his skinny sticks of legs were brown and misshapen and covered in pussed scabs like scene on the surface of stagnant water".....His interest in the welfare of Jacqueline continues and when he discovers bruises on her arm he decides to visit the McQuarrie household to uncover the truth. Meanwhile his relationship with Emma deteriorates as darkness from the past drowns them further in sorrow.
This is beautifully written dark fiction that reminds me in part of the American author Greg f Gifune. The writing and descriptions are simply sublime and add greatly to the uneasy feeling of sadness and fear that pervades throughout the pages from first to last....."the way the dark rolled in across the fields to beach soundlessly against the lines of the house, the feeling it brought of being isolated from the rest of the world but secure and solid in the sanctuary of the shadows".....I am a great admirer of the writing of David Park. His novels are often based around the violent and bloody conflict that was an everyday event in the towns and rural settlements of Northern Ireland. He never allows "the troubles" to encroach or play centre stage in his writings but simply acknowledges their existence, preferring to concentrate on the story at hand yet deeply aware that the mindset and parochial attitude of "Ulstermen" forms a rocky platform as the events in his story unfold.
This is wonderful, heartfelt writing of the highest order from one outstanding author.