Saturday, December 3, 2011

Murder, village intrigue, pedophilia -- WHO is the villain?

“Little Fingers” is a truly remarkable novel. Opening as the main character Julia Blackburn is being interviewed by police Inspector John Frampton. “There is a serial killer out there. He is living in that brain of yours as an unrecognised memory, a shadowy computation, and he must be stopped.” Inspector Frampton is a doggedly patient man who must get at the truth and stop the killings going on in the village of Hanburgh. Julia is the most recent person to have seen recently murdered Tom Willows. He is determined to tease the truth from Julia’s mind. Who is this mysterious woman? He persists doggedly forward. “That is what makes you a policeman,” she says; “You have the mind of a drill bit.”
Life in the little village of Hanburgh was relatively tranquil until Julia Blackburn arrived and rented one of the largest houses in town. Who is she and what does she want from the people here?
There is Mary, Julia’s friend and lover; Mary Knightly, wife of George and adopted daughter of Dr. Beringer, local physician and pedophile. There is Samantha, whom Mary Knightly calls “a bastard daughter of a whore”. Not to be outdone, Samantha calls Mary Knightly “a jumped up little poisonous turd.” No love lost there. There is Brenda, waitress at the local pub, a fund of knowledge about everything going on in Hanburgh. Who is Julia Blackburn, and what is she doing here? It isn’t until late in the novel that we find out who the killer is, and why. The killer’s purpose? To exact revenge on the people who made or her life miserable when she lived in Hanburgh. But ... who is the killer? At one point in her interrogation with Inspector Frampton, Julia asks :”If I am the fall guy, who is the murderer?”
Julia belabors the Inspector’s ears with philosophical asides. “We do such trivial things with all that intelligence we have been lavished with. We could work towards a better world, towards making even the smallest of differences, and we waste our time worrying whether somebody of no importance likes us or not.” “We are not balanced. We go from peaceful intentions in peacetime to murderous ones in war. We are easily provoked to hatred by the simplest of cynical exploiters. We fall for the same trick a thousand times without recognising it... You would think that we would  have reached satiety with all that we cram our homes with and later take to the dump. Apparently not. Rather than counsel ourselves that enough is enough, we carry on accelerating our desires, and cheering on people whose only intent is to profit from them. We may be decent, but we are certainly stupid.”
Rather than distracting from the story, these monologues add to the picture of Julia’s mind. Is she ...? You’ll have to read the novel to find out. It’s a remarkable piece of fiction that you won’t soon forget. I certainly won’t.
A clear 5 star read.

Available in paperback and Kindle.

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