By Sam Millar
Black’s Creek starts with the narrator, as an adult, looking back on an event that shaped his childhood; ‘the murder of a suspected paedophile and child murderer, over twenty years ago’. Reading that the case is to be re-opened plunges Tommy, and the reader, back into his childhood.
We read about the shocking events that happened one summer in early teenage when Tommy and his friends Horseshoe and Brent witness another young boy, Joey, drown himself in the local lake near the small town of Black’s Creek in upstate New York.
Tommy and the others decide that justice must be done for Joey, and this takes them on a journey where they, as blood brothers, decide to seek revenge. For the three young teenagers, this becomes partly a coming-of-age tale, partly a mystery thriller.
The story is quite visceral, and in many places not a comfortable read. Tommy is confronted with violence, sexual abuse and the secrets that adults keep. He tries to find his way through this whilst having his friendships tested and his heart broken.
The novel explores some important themes, but in the end I felt it was the nature of justice that came through as the strongest. There are some revelations for Tommy towards the end of the book that turn his ideas upside down, and this, alongside a plot that keeps you guessing what has really happened, make for a tense read.
Finally the novel has an ending that is more poignant that you would usually expect in a crime novel. This for me added an extra touch to a well-written and gripping novel.
Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.
You can find out more here.