30 Sep Book Review – Girl in the Dark
Marion Pauw’s novel $26.75 buy it here on Booktopia
“There’s not much difference between transporting a prisoner and moving a load of hogs.” Straight away I was in. Jail, prison, crime committed, what will that crime be? Whose lives will be changed?
Girl in the Dark is Marion Pauw’s debut American novel and a book released in Oz in Feb 2016. Someone lent it to me, probably my MIL Chez and its black and white cover has been taunting me to read it ever since. This spring 2019 school holidays on the six-hour drive to the Whitsundays, Queensland, I got stuck in.
Told in alternate chapters between Ray and Iris. Obviously know straight away there has to be a connection between the two of them. Ray is developmentally challenged and in jail for two bloody murders. Iris is a lawyer and a single mum with a young son Aaron. The paths of the two collide when chance happenings reveal Ray is Iris’s brother. Now I’m not spoiling anything for you here because that isn’t the crescendo of the crime committed. It gets much juicier than that revelation.
Besides the psychological thriller theme of the book, which is my favourite type btw, the other parts of the book that I liked were how three relatively isolated souls form a connection and are spared the isolation they’ve previously always known. We all have our ‘on the spectrum’ moments but Ray and Aaron live them daily and it was great to see them find their place in the world.
I suppose I should mention Agatha. She is horrible. No doubt about it, but I guess without her there would be no story. Devoid of all emotion except for grandson Aaron, you keep wishing Iris didn’t have to rely on her quite so much. The even more disturbing thing about her is that her character wouldn’t just exist in a thriller novel.
There are some other interesting characters that you come to love. Rosita, also a single mother with daughter Anna, living next door to Ray. Maybe I don’t love her so much, she does spend most of Ray’s savings. Then there are the French patisserie owners who take Ray in and watch his 3.30am starts and 700 perfect croissants with a nurturing heart. They take on the role of surrogate parents, making their business and Ray successful in the process. This, of course, is all before the murders. Ray’s relationship with the mother dough is interesting too. Anyone who knows anything about bread making would know that using yeast is for amateurs. You should use a mother dough and needs careful climate control and apparently love. Ray talks to his mother dough often. His careful attention to detail makes you want to go and take up baking. Anyhow, I digress.
Girl in the Dark is a keep reading till 2 am in the morning type of book. Besides the thriller element to it, the interesting array of floored characters makes you think about life, the relationships which make a family and how everyone has a place in the world.