Friday, August 26, 2016

Running Girl by Simon Mason, 2014

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Meet Garvie Smith. Highest IQ ever recorded at Marsh Academy. Lowest ever grades. What's the point? Life sucks. Nothing surprising ever happens.
Until Chloe Dow's body is pulled from a pond. Garvie's ex-girlfriend.
Inspector Singh is already on the case. Ambitious, uptight, methodical, he's determined to solve the mystery--and get promoted. He doesn't need any "assistance" from a notorious slacker.
Or does he?
Smart, stylish, and packed with twists and turns from start to finish,
Running Girl introduces an unforgettable new character to the world of crime fiction--so lazy he'd only get out of bed for murder.
(432 pages)

This book is deeply disturbing.

Though I suppose I knew it would be when I saw that it was a high school murder mystery.

I won't spoil what happened (obviously - what sort of terrible person would I be if I spoiled the end of a mystery novel?), but let's just say that there's some pretty sick stuff that they at the very least theorize was going on in Chloe's life including stalking, pedophelia, and rape. It's truly horrifying to read about, and part of me wishes I hadn't at all.

The mystery is well done, though. There were a couple of times when it seemed like everything was obvious, that the mystery was solved, and then someone (usually Garvie) would point out some small incongruency and the entire thing would unravel. Setting aside the fact that the murder theories become progressively disturbing as they go along, this definitely keeps interest the entire novel through.

I do have to say, though, that this is one of very few murder mysteries I've ever read that wasn't by Agatha Christie. I've devoured murder mystery books by the gallon, sure, but never really branched out from the one author. So when I read a murder mystery, I can't help comparing it to Christie's. Garvie - with his frustratingly apathetic approach to life, his weed addiction, and his constant betrayal of his mother's trust - is not exactly the young counterpart of Christie's Hercule Poirot, but he does share the latter's habit of keeping his cards close to his hand. Somehow I find it more annoying when Garvie does it than when Poirot does, though I don't know if that's just because I generally find Garvie to be pretty unpleasant as a character. Where Poirot is a genius who genuinely cares about the people he's investigating, Garvie is just a high school weed-head who's investigating the murder of a girl he didn't really like just for the fun of it. When he doesn't tell people everything he knows, it's more obnoxious than anything.

I don't know if I can explicitly recommend this book to anyone - not just because of the intense material, but also because of the terrible language that pops up occasionally - but I think everyone has to decide for themselves whether or not they're feeling up for it. You've read my review, you have an idea of what Running Girl is like, and now it's up to you to decide whether you want to read it. If you need any more information before you make your decision, ask me anything you want in the comments section below.

Disclaimer: I received an unsolicited ARC of this novel from the publisher.

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