Review - Now You See Me, Jean Bedford
There must be such a delicate balancing act involved when you're writing crime fiction about some of the worst possible crimes. In NOW YOU SEE ME Bedford has tackled the question of child abuse and child murder, and she's opted, bravely to do that in a most unusual manner.
The book centres around journalist Noel Baker - no stranger, as the blurb says, to the worst of human behaviour. Something twigs her investigative senses though about one particular case, and it sends her down a very dark path indeed. A young girl was killed and police were more than happy to place the blame at the feet of neglectful and abusive parents. Noel, however, isn't so convinced and she finds herself dealing with a very peculiar form of vigilante killer - and their diary - which is in itself, horrific reading. Even more so, when she realises that the killer is one of her own circle of university friends.
The balancing act is very evident in the manner in which Bedford uses the killer's journal, scattered throughout the book, to reveal their personal childhood abuse and suffering. She then switches to the other story, the deaths of a number of young children, seemingly at the hands of their abuser - somebody close to them. Meanwhile, knowing something of a killer's motivation, readers cannot help but consider whether or not somebody's own trauma is an excuse for their behaviour - for killing children as a way of stopping other perpetrators. Needless to say it's a complicated scenario, populated by a lot of characters to keep track of, which will mean that you're paying attention - making the confrontational nature of the abuse of children difficult to avoid / skip over.
Obviously NOW YOU SEE ME isn't a comfort read because of that subject matter, and the twisted and discomfortingly understandable motives of the killer. That should not be a turn-off though. This is a book that feels like it wants to tear the blinkers off and really make you think about the manner in which society tends to treat victims in particular.