Rupture by Simon Lelic
This is not a normal whodunnit crime novel, it’s a ‘whydunnit’. We know from the start that a mild-mannered school teacher shot and killed three pupils and a teacher before turning his gun on himself.
It’s D.I. Lucia May’s case and although it appears to be an open and shut case, she doesn’t believe it’s as simple as that. What triggered his outburst? She has to know. As she talks to more of those involved the full story behind what made Samuel Szajkowski open fire gradually reveals itself. Needless to say, May is under pressure from her boss to close the case; he gives her another day.
She has other problems too being the only female detective at the station. One of the other detectives who is very old school is bullying her, the others in the office either support him or do nothing. Her boss never appears to notice that anything is wrong. She’s also recently split up with her boyfriend too, so she has a lot on her plate.
I can’t tell you more without ruining the suspense, for despite knowing the outcome, the journey is eventful. The novel is structured so that interleaved with Lucia’s investigation are the statements from witnesses, pupils, staff and parents. These are presented as dictated monologues, and you gradually hear all the facets of the story through them.
Although many stereotypes are present they are generally handled well – the ineffectual deskbound DCI and the sexist men’s world of station banter are recognisable from countless TV dramas for instance. However, the school characters are drawn more strongly, from the class bully to the psychopath PE teacher and the rather unlikeable headmaster; particularly as they are also seen through the eyes of those making witness statements. Lucia is a likeable lead who can usually stand up for herself, but has a vulnerable side too which makes for an enjoyable debut novel. (8/10, Book supplied by Amazon Vine.)