Saturday, May 12, 2007

Red Leaves by Thomas H Cook

Eric Moore has reason to be happy. He has a prosperous business, a comfortable home, a stable family life in a quiet town. Then, on an ordinary night, his teenage son Keith is asked to babysit Amy Giordano, the eight-year-old daughter of a neighbouring family. The next morning Amy is missing.

Suddenly Eric is one of the stricken parents he has seen on television, professing faith in his child's innocence. As the police investigation increasingly focuses on Keith, Eric must counsel his on, find him a lawyer, protect him from the community's growing suspicion.

Except that Eric is not so sure his son is innocent....

I know that this must have happened to other people. You are talking to your friend/acquaintance/coworker and because they know you are a reader they say "Oh, I read this really great book recently". You reply and ask the normal stuff - title, author and genre, and before you know it they have offered to lend it to you. You give some vague response because it's not normally the kind of book that you read, but before you know it, you've borrowed their book! Can you tell that I am much more comfortable being the book pimper than being the book pimpee?

This book is really not the sort of book that I read. Not because I have any great aversion to psychological mystery thriller style books, but just because if I had to choose between a historical fiction novel/romance/YA book and a thriller I would choose the non thriller just about every time.

After a few weeks...or maybe a bit longer...and a few questions like "Are you enjoying the book yet?" I finally got around to it...and it was good. Different from my usual reading material, but still good.

Whilst this book is also about a young girl's disappearance and the young boy who comes under suspicion, it is more about the disintegration of a family as it comes under intense pressure from both internal and external sources, about the secrets that come to haunt a family, no matter how well hidden people think that they are.

The characters are well written, and Eric in particular, is believable as he starts to doubt everything in his life - his son, his wife, his brother, his parents. The fact that he learns the value of those he loves only after the terrible events outlined in the book is in itself a tragedy.

Keith returns home late from a night of baby sitting. The next morning there is a phone call from Amy's distraught father asking if anything unusual had happened last night or if he knew where Amy was. Before long, the police are involved and they are questioning both Keith and Eric about the events of the night. When the story that is given to the police is not quite the truth, Eric starts to think about his son and how he interacts with the people around him, about his almost loner like lifestyle, and starts to wonder if maybe it is more than just a normal teenage boy's moodiness.

Thinking about his son's teenage years inevitably leads Eric to thinking about his own teenage years, which were less than perfect in themselves as his family was torn apart by the death of his younger sister, the bankruptcy of the family, and the death of his own mother. As he contemplates his own teenage years, things come to light that had been hidden for many years - secrets and lies - and Eric wonders what secrets and lies are hidden within his relationship with his wife and son. As he begins looking at his life with his new understanding, he begins to see things that are maybe not as they should be, but the question is whether he is now interpreting the signs correctly or not.

A warning for those of you who do sneak a look at the ending of a book before you get there. If you are tempted to do that with this book (and I know that I am not alone in doing this sometimes)...please don't. There is a huge twist in the ending of this book and it would change your reading experience for sure.

I am glad that I did read this book, and was able to pass it back to my coworker and say "Thanks, I enjoyed it!'. After all, one of the good things about getting recommendations is being exposed to new authors, styles and genres. I may even go and look for more books by this author! Anything is possible.

Rating: 4/5


  1. This has been on my wish list for some time. Thank you for the review, Marg. I do like books of this type and hope to read it one day. Great review!

  2. Great review, Marg! I have read this and it's a page turner! I have to agree with you about the ending, oh my...such a huge twist isn't it?!

  3. I do like a good mystery, so this has intrigued me. Will definately get this one at the library tomorrow.