Read The Child Who by Simon Lelic Online


An unimaginable crime and the man who must defend it-a probing psychological thriller from the author of A Thousand Cuts.A chance phone call throws the biggest muder case in southern England into the hands of provincial attorney Leo Curtice. Twelve-year- old Daniel Blake stands accused of murdering an eleven-year-old girl. But who is truly responsible when one child killsAn unimaginable crime and the man who must defend it-a probing psychological thriller from the author of A Thousand Cuts.A chance phone call throws the biggest muder case in southern England into the hands of provincial attorney Leo Curtice. Twelve-year- old Daniel Blake stands accused of murdering an eleven-year-old girl. But who is truly responsible when one child kills another? As Curtice sets out to defend the indefensible, he soon finds himself pitted against an enraged community calling for blood. When the buildup of pressure takes a sinister turn, he fears for his wife and young daughter's safety. Must he choose between his family and the life of a damaged child? With piercing psychological insight, Lelic examines a community's response to a hideous crime.Longlisted for the Crime Writers' Assocaition's Gold Dagger award fro Best Novel of the Year and the Steel Dagger for Best Thriller....

Title : The Child Who
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780143120919
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 303 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Child Who Reviews

  • Lou
    2019-02-19 09:30

    An engaging story involving a twelve year old boy accused of the murder and rape of a young girl. We follow the solicitor in his taking on of the case and the turmoil and hate he faces representing a young boy accused of murder. The public hate him as they know of his identity and the solicitor is bombarded by hate and finger pointing. His wife and a young daughter soon find themselves having to face problems, due to his high profile and sensitive case. It was an interesting read and gives you a observant eye and thought provoking take on young offenders and crimes. Responsibilities, motives and punishment all come again under the microscope as food for thought.

  • Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
    2019-02-20 10:17

    My thoughts on this one were rather mixed. I'll start with the good: the subject matter. The subject and the ethical questions associated with dealing with crimes by youth is fascinating to me. Given the horrid nature of his crimes, should Daniel be tried as an adult? Does his youth mean that he shouldn't be culpable?Reading this book really made me think about these questions and innumerable others. I also thought, too, about the reactions people had to Daniel's crime. All of the flak that Leo took for trying to do his job and be this kid's solicitor was ridiculous. I just fail to understand why anyone would send him hate mail or protest him for fulfilling his role in the country's justice system.Moving into the problems here...I think I would have preferred this if it were from the perspective of a child psychologist or something like that. Leo's understanding of Daniel is limited, and we see through his eyes any time Daniel's actually present. Even when he gets Daniel to talk, he doesn't know the right questions to ask or have any analysis to bear. Even when he gets a psychologist to speak with Daniel and she diagnoses a couple of things, nothing really comes of it because Leo isn't smart enough or isn't the right kind of smart to do anything with it.What really got to me, though, was the writing style. For one thing, the sentences are really simple, which could be a stylistic decision, but just made the whole thing choppy and hard to read. Also, the third person narration tended to follow along with a character, but who changed from chapter to chapter. Lots of authors use this technique, but, here, it was rather difficult to parse. I think the reason it was so troublesome for me was that, rather than using the character's name at the beginning of each section, Lelic always refers to them merely as he or she, so I spent several sentences/paragraphs of each one trying to determine who the heck I was reading about.On top of that, the story jumped around in time, which, again, can be used effectively but was not here. Instead of amping up the shock value or creating interesting comparisons, this method created confusion and removed the surprises. There was one twist of sorts, but I wasn't interested enough in the characters to care about it particularly.All of that aside, Lelic has won awards for his mystery writing, so don't dismiss him based solely on my review. His style just doesn't work for me personally. If you think you might like this, give it a try, or check out one of his other books. His style just doesn't work for me personally.

  • Lainy
    2019-02-22 04:40

    Time taken to read - 2 daysPublisher - Penguin BooksPages - 303Blurb from GoodreadsAn unimaginable crime and the man who must defend it-a probing psychological thriller from the author of A Thousand Cuts.A chance phone call throws the biggest muder case in southern England into the hands of provincial attorney Leo Curtice. Twelve-year- old Daniel Blake stands accused of murdering an eleven-year-old girl. But who is truly responsible when one child kills another? As Curtice sets out to defend the indefensible, he soon finds himself pitted against an enraged community calling for blood. When the buildup of pressure takes a sinister turn, he fears for his wife and young daughter's safety. Must he choose between his family and the life of a damaged child? With piercing psychological insight, Lelic examines a community's response to a hideous crime.My ReviewA child murdering another child is always going to be a dark book, however, the focuses of this tale is more on the lawyer Leo I felt than the actual case or killer. Leo is a small time lawyer and this case will be very good for the firm and his career. Everything comes at a price and for Leo and his family the price is high. The book starts off with a female, Leo's wife, it is a tad confusing and takes a bit to understand what she is talking about. The story itself I felt was a wee bit jumpy and took a bit to work out what was going on. It soon becomes clear, twelve year old Daniel has murdered another female child and Leo will be his defender. His daughter is a teenager and faces the wrath of her schoolmates when it becomes public knowledge. His wife is also targeted by the community and Leo begins to get threats. Leo seems completely focused on Daniel and getting through to him, Daniels step father and mother are cold and distant, Daniel seems to have no one which may be why Leo feels compelled to help. Frustrating at times as you aren't too sure the timeline, always recent but sometimes it is after one incident, back to the run up to the trial and then after without clear timeline markings. With so much focus on Leo I think a lot of Daniel and his crime was missed, whilst you aren't left completely without answers I think there is a huge gap for Daniels psychological state and an examination of that.Instead we see a reaction to a horrendous crime within a community and the impact that has, one to the actual community in how it responds and more centrally to Leo and his family. The repercussions of his decisions and the ripples caused in the relationships with those he loves. Cause and effect is key to the story however I feel the author missed a golden opportunity by not including more of Daniel, 3/5 for me this time. This is my first time reading this author, I would read his works again.

  • Lisa
    2019-02-25 08:35

    OK. So I have mixed feelings about this book. I was looking forward to reading a gripping book about a child killer who kills a child. However, it was not gripping at all really....well maybe in small sections here and there but not enough to reflect the though-provoking subject. It never really develops into anything....The way it was written was fairly difficult to understand....when moving from chapter to chapter, the author refers to the characters simply as he or she, so you have to read a fair bit into it to understand who it's referring to. In parts of the book, it seems to jump to the future and made it quite confusing for me. There are still unanswered questions in this book and it has left me feeling quite unsatisfied...Obviously, this is my own opinion, so please don't dismiss the book completely. Others obviously find his writing style great based on reviews and the awards Felic has won. I just couldn't get to grips with it.

  • Erin Chicosky
    2019-03-17 10:32

    I started this book hoping for an intense murder/mystery/why'd he do it novel and walked away with a semi-mediocre drama. The synopsis makes it sound like the reader will be watching the discovery of why the twelve year-old child murdered the eleven year old girl unfold, yet in reality all you really get is to witness how the community treats the public defender and his family because of his involvement with the case. There is really little said about the actual murder itself so you are left with a finished book and what felt like no actual reasoning behind the murder.The main character, Leonard, made some of the stupidest decisions I've ever read about. He willingly put his families lives in danger because he believed this child, who murdered another child and raped her, needed his help more then they did. He then has something horrific happen to his family as a result of continuing and instead of dealing with that and supporting himself and his wife he tries to go back to the murderer to try and help him again. He was quite honestly half the reason I didn't enjoy this book. The other half was because of the story not being what the synopsis advertised.

  • Katie
    2019-03-19 06:17

    Great plot idea, and it kept me slightly interested; but the writing was muh and the main character was an idiot. I kept waiting for the book to end with him waking up in a mental ward having a psychotic break. There were only two reasons why I did not DNF this book. 1. The writer is so praised I wanted to give it a fair shot. 2. The writing is so simple it made for a fast read. I also really wanted to like it because the cover is pretty and I wanted a reason to keep the book.

  • Fred Hughes
    2019-02-20 07:15

    This review is based on a free copy of this book supplied to me by the Publisher through the Goodreads First Reader ProgramThis is the story of the murder of an 11 year old girl by a 12 year old boy. The impact that had on the boy and his family; and the lawyer hired to defend him, and his family.The main characters in the book are:Leonard (Leo) Curtice – lawyer for DanielDaniel Blake – 12 year old accused murdererMegan Curtice – Leo’s long suffering wifeEllie Curtice – Leo’s 15 year old daughterDaniels Parents – Stephanie (mom) and Vincent (step dad)Dr Karen Mitchell – Psychiatrist brought in to assess Daniels mental stateLeo finds his already hectic life put in a spinner when he is called to defend 12 year old Daniel Blake who is accused of murdering 11 year old Felicity. It further strains his marriage and his relationship with his daughter. When public reaction to him defending Daniel manifests itself on attacks on his daughter Ellie at school and his wife being spit on at the market the pressure builds.Leo is determined to rise above it and do what a defence attorney is suppose to do which is to defend his client and get the best result he can, despite what the boy is accused of. This leads to Leo becoming a celebrity but not famous but infamous.Defence in this case is going to be a problem as Daniel has totally clamed up and Leo can’t get anything about what happened from DanielSo Leo brings in Dr Mitchell to do a quick evaluation of Daniel to hopefully open him up to discussing the murder, as well as probing to see if diminished capacity will play part of Daniels defence strategy. Dr Mitchell does get Daniel to open up and Leos further investigation reveals some attributes from his younger life.The book doesn’t linger on the murder but instead focus’s on Leo and what is happening to him and his family as he proceeds on the case. Leo starts to get threatening letters in the mail telling him to drop the case. Leo perseveres however when the last note comes and has both a lock of his daughter’s hair and blood on it Leo soon realizes that someone is truly trying to stop him from doing what is right.Leo’s daughter has disappeared ! Leo now starts the search for his missing daughter in addition to defending Daniel.There are two points in the book where we unexpectedly jump into the future. In the first one we jump several months into the future and learn about Leo’s missing daughter Ellie and in the second jump we move 10 years into the future and find out what happened to Daniel. In both instances, particularly the second one, key story details are revealed before you read them in the book. Both chapters don’t really add to the overall story line and are jarring.Did Daniel really kill Felicity ? Was it intentional or an accident ? Does Daniel go to jail ?Does Leo save his marriage after the trial ? Who took Ellie ? Is Ellie still alive ?You’ll have to read the book to find the answers to these questions. A good emotional ride with Daniel and Leo as the centre of it all

  • Angelique Simonsen
    2019-03-17 05:15

    easy to fall into ... ending was good

  • Judy Croome
    2019-03-16 09:13

    A taut, excellent thriller, heavily based on the notorious Bulger/Mary Bell murder cases in the UK, Lelic handles a difficult topic bravely. There is no attempt to romanticise his murderer, 12 year old Daniel Blake and his main character, Leo Curtice, a rural attorney who accidentally picks up the trial of the year, is drawn into a complex and sympathetic relationship with the young killer at great personal cost.Although I did not appreciate the attempt to justify the killer’s actions by blaming society, his parents and everyone else for his actions because he was so young, the author did briefly touch on the view from the victim’s side of the fence in an interesting way. There are no easy answers to the questions and issues raised in this book, but I do feel that it leant too much towards the view that children are not to blame for the evil they commit: what was not properly explored, was that for every 8 abused children who become abusers themselves (a statistic quoted on Pg 200 of AS IF by Blake Morrison,) there are 2 who choose to escape repeating that pattern by taking responsibility for their own actions, despite the failings of society, their parents etc. However, Lelic still managed to weave a tense, compassionate tale without resorting to blood spattered pages and an over use of swear words. He didn’t need too; his characters and his talented use of words were powerful enough to keep one glued to the pages, wanting to see how Leo’s choices played out.The surprise ending was much in keeping with the tone of the book, which ultimately shows how a well-written story can be used to bring important issues to the public’s attention.

  • Cleo Bannister
    2019-03-03 05:29

    Simon Lelic tackles the emotions aroused when a child kills a child, it aptly starts with Blake Morrison's quote from As If 'The men.... had come wanting to kill the kids who'd killed the kid, because there's nothing worse than killing a kid.The story centres around Leo Curtice, the provincial solicitor assigned to the case of Daniel Blake a 12 year old boy accused of killing 11 year old Felicity Forbes. Cases like these don't come along very often and Leo thinks he is aware of the spotlight that the case will shine on his life, but he's not. The newspaper articles reproduced for this and the descriptions of the scenes as Daniel is taken to court are realistic as are the reactions of Leo who whilst worried about his family gets bound up in discovering why Daniel killed Felicity. For Leo and his family there are devastating consequences.There is a huge amount to think about whilst reading this book and I was really impressed with the way Simon Lelic tackled this difficult subject matter.

  • Hayley
    2019-03-18 10:29

    Twelve year old Daniel brutally murders Eleven year old Felicity. What follows is the fallout of his actions. Focusing on the Solicitor who defends him the story is gripping but unsettling as human emotions and conflict come to the fore.Similarities to the Jamie Bulger case in Britain are veined throughout, the writer Simon Lelic highlights the raw facts leading to many thought provoking questions. Despite being an uncomfortable read this story is a real page turner.

  • Ellie
    2019-03-01 03:38

    Very emotional, the pain of the adults and the child in such an awful situation tangible. No spoiler but the ending was unanticipated. The book raised questions for me about how difficult society finds it to cope with children who kill; the perpetrator is also a victim who deserves compassion.I strongly recommend that if you feel this book speaks to you, read Gitta Sereny on the case of Mary Bell.

  • Kerry
    2019-02-25 05:40

    It took me a while to get in to this book, I wasn't sure if I wanted to read it, kept wanting to put it down but also wanted to know what happened. I thought it would be scared but, thankfully it wasn't!Really good book, fabulous ending - not what I expected at all! And it was a really quick read, the chapters flew by quickly.

  • Lisa Black
    2019-02-28 06:25

    The slightly back-and-forth-in-time nature of the chapters (with no indications, so you have to figure out for yourself where that section fits in the timeline) can be a little bit of work, but otherwise I couldn't put this book down. I read it in two days.

  • Nicole Lundrigan
    2019-03-07 06:23

    A great read – left me with lots to consider. Only (very minor) challenge was I found it difficult to get my bearings at the beginning of each chapter. After mulling it over a bit, I'm wondering if that was the intent. That introductory haziness.

  • Ian
    2019-03-01 08:25

    In Simon Lelic’s gripping novel The Child Who, 12-year-old Daniel Blake has murdered 11-year-old Felicity Forbes. The act is inexplicable, morally repugnant and by any standard indefensible, and yet Daniel, having been arrested, is entitled to a defence. By chance, the case lands on the desk of solicitor Leonard (Leo) Curtice. Leo, intimidated by the heinous nature of the offence, initially approaches Daniel tentatively, expecting a monster. But it is not long before he is seduced by Daniel’s youth, genuine remorse, and outward appearance of naïve innocence, and he quickly finds himself firmly in sympathy with the boy. The case soon spills over into his private life: not only is he arguing on Daniel’s behalf with colleagues at the law firm who would be happy to see Daniel swing for his crime, he is also forced to defend his role as Daniel’s advocate to his wife Megan and daughter Ellie. Despite a groundswell of public rage fuelled by an increasingly intrusive media, he forges ahead in the belief that a convincing and compelling argument exists on which he can build a case for either leniency or institutional confinement instead of imprisonment. Then, with his search for just such an argument faltering, letters start to arrive threatening harm. Angry with everyone for abandoning Daniel to a heartless and unforgiving judicial system, heedless of the consequences of his actions, he can only watch as his life spins out of control. Then the worst happens. Lelic’s edgy narrative, inspired in part by the James Bulger case, is not an easy read. It compels us to imagine what drives one child to kill another. Lelic depicts Daniel as lost and confused. Despite our knowledge of what he has done, rather than condemn him as a willing perpetrator of a horrendous criminal act, our inclination is to pity him as a victim of impulses he can neither control nor understand. To his credit, Lelic does not attempt to push the reader toward any kind of conclusion. The Child Who occupies the grey middle-ground of the moral arena. Obviously, Felicity did not deserve what happened to her. But the difficult question that the reader will continue to ponder is: Does Daniel deserve what happens to him? In the end, only the reader can decide if justice has been served.

  • Gemma
    2019-03-19 06:29

    This book seemed to have a lot of potential, but such a lot going on that it ending up being way to vague.It flicked from one part of the story to another and I felt like there were gaps to the story the reader needed to fill themselves.Was quite a controversial subject to cover, especially focusing on defending an admitted 12 year old murderer and trying to get the reader to sympathise with this character. I often thought that the second part to the story - where his daughter allegedly got abducted, clouded over the main story. It was clear the author went for the way a case like this destroys more tgan just one life, however could of been approached in a less dramatic way.I liked parts of this book - but found the beginnings of the chapters quite hard gling and took a while to grasp my interest. I stop-started this book a lot, as it lost my attention.Very good content and dealt with professionally

  • Merissa Long
    2019-03-07 06:32

    Yanno, I don't like giving bad reviews. I'm not going to like every book out there, and every book won't relate to me. So I feel like if I don't like a book, it's because of me and not the book itself. But this book man, I'm so glad it's over. I honestly couldn't tell you a single thing that happened because the book is so jumbled. One minute we're in the present (possibly past?) the next we're in the future (possibly present?). And the way this is written, I couldn't get passed that either. I don't think anybody in this book completed a sentence. Also there's no resolution (or maybe I just skipped over too much of the book), was Daniel guilty? Why did Daniel do what he did? Why is Daniel the way he is? Who took Ellie? WHAT HAPPENS????

  • Ceren Ünlü
    2019-03-04 08:27

    Konusu , kurgusu çok iyi. Yazarın kaleminde biraz sıkıntı var...

  • Kati Schwan
    2019-02-21 05:23

    Interesting concept. Terrible execution. I literally just couldnt get past the first 20 pages.

  • Shannon
    2019-02-17 06:12

    not as good as I though it would been

  • David Hebblethwaite
    2019-03-04 07:18

    Simon Lelic is developing a track record as a novelist who approaches his subject matter from interesting angles and explores thorny moral issues, notably in his 2010 debut Rupture, a multi-viewpoint examination of what drove a teacher to open fire in a school assembly. Lelic turned the conspiracy thriller inside-out in last year’s The Facility; now he has returned to contemporary crime with The Child Who. This new novel concerns the case of a twelve-year-old boy who killed a girl at his school; though Lelic’s main focus is neither victim nor murderer, but the boy’s lawyer.Leo Curtice is the solicitor who takes the call and ends up representing Daniel Blake, in what becomesExeter’s most attention-grabbing trial in years. From the beginning, Lelic makes clear what a double-edged sword this assignment is for Leo: on the one hand, such a high-profile case is an opportunity that comes around very rarely; on the other, the job is repugnant, because there is no doubt of the boy’s guilt. Leo isn’t entirely comfortable with viewing the case as an ‘opportunity’, and struggles to justify his involvement to himself and others; his purpose seems nebulous even when he discusses it with Daniel Blake, and reveals that it’s not so much a matter of defending the boy as presenting his culpability in the least worst light.The Child Who builds into a study of a man under emotional pressure from all sides (we learn relatively early on that Leo’s involvement in the case rips his family apart).Leo deals with negative reactions by focusing in on his work, and there’s a strong sense that he is using the formal words of his profession as a shield; when Leo tries to explain to his daughter Ellie why he’s representing Blake, all his talk of habeus corpus does not satisfy her when she just wants to know why it’s he in particular who has the case. And Leo is still falling into the same pattern of behaviour when his wife Megan is about to leave him:‘I need a break. From the house as much as anything. And it’s clear you need to focus. If you really feel you need to do this, it would be better, for your sake, if you did it without any more . . . distractions.’Leo nodded – not conceding the point, just bobbing past it. ‘The thing is,’ he said, ‘I was looking at some recent cases. At the coverage in the press once things actually got underway. And what happens is, when a trial begins, there’s actually less attention in a way because of all the restric . . .’Leo stopped himself. From the look on Megan’s face, the coverage was not the point.‘I’ll be in the kitchen,’ she said. ‘Let me know when you’re ready.’For all that Leo acts in this way, he finds it no easier to deal with being on the receiving end of similar behaviour; he is himself frustrated by the rhetorical fencing of Ellie’s headteacher. This is one of the most interesting things Lelic does in The Child Who: to gradually place Leo in the same position as the parents of Felicity Forbes (the girl killed by Blake), and examine his response. Leo begins to receive threatening notes, then Ellie disappears; and his feelings towards the anonymous culprit are no less hostile than others’ have been towards Daniel Blake.There are several striking scenes in which Lelic presents emotionally-charged events from a distance, because of Leo’s perspective. There’s a violent protest when Daniel is driven to court for the first time, but we experience it all from inside his police van, where it becomes particularly abstract and menacing for Leo. Felicity Forbes’s funeral is a national event, but, seen on television (and as the only glimpse we get of Felicity’s family), it could as well be happening in a different reality. In keeping with the idea of Leo’s personal life and work mirroring each other, it might be considered that eventually he becomes as distanced from his family as he was from external views of the case. In its complex portrait of the protagonist and his situation, The Child Who might just be Lelic’s most effective novel yet.(This review also appears at The Huffington Post.)

  • Val
    2019-02-27 11:13

    A twelve-year-old boy sexually abuses and causes the death of a classmate and is charged with murder. The duty legal aid solicitor is appointed to the boy's defence. Various journalists and members of the public react. The book follows the story of the solicitor and his family, with occasional glimpses of the accused.There are questions around the treatment of child offenders, but unfortunately this book fails to address them, mainly because this is simply not how the UK justice system works. The first solicitor, for various reasons, never formulates a defence strategy before being removed from the case. A colleague, who would never be appointed unless the firm really wants a Law Society investigation, takes over and advises the boy to plead guilty to murder. Neither of them look at the evidence, presumably established at the inquest, of how the girl died. The boy himself is unaware of it. The first solicitor tries to establish some background information in an attempt to understand why the boy did what he did, but it is not heard because there is no trial and no defence offered. The judge sentencing the boy would however demand (with legal force if necessary) a psychiatric report and a social services report before sentencing, especially when there is no trial. (view spoiler)[The only reason he might not is if the boy were already dead in custody, when there would be a Home Office investigation, but if I understand the chronology of the book correctly, he is killed several years later. (This is not a spoiler, it is in the first chapter, but I will put it inside the spoiler tags anyway.) (hide spoiler)]. The boy expresses regret, but this is not a defence strategy and the judge is not obliged to take it into account when sentencing, although many do. The rights to offer a defence and to have legal representation to do so are relatively recent developments in British legal history, but they are well established ones. This sloppiness regarding legal procedures undermines any point the book might be attempting to make about them and makes me think the author is not interested in them at all. Perhaps a child-killing child was due for parole at the time and the associated media interest made the author rush the writing and publishing of the book before the bandwagon rolled by, so that he did not have time to do a little elementary research.The story of Leo the solicitor and his family is handled better than the story of the boy and his victim. It has pace and some suspense, although it also has more straggly loose ends than Megan's comfort jumper. Persecution by intrusive journalists and ill-informed vigilantes does unfortunately happen. Leo could have refused to take the case, although he would have to give a reason. It is unlikely that so many people would want him to withdraw, but we can let that pass. It is not unlikely that the boy's parents would want to avoid social workers investigating them (not that they could avoid this, see above). The story unravels (view spoiler)[with Ellie's disappearance. Do the police stop looking for her when they arrest someone for her murder? Do they charge him, without knowing if she is dead or alive, or let him go through lack of evidence, or charge him with writing threatening letters? Does Ellie hear the news of this? More importantly, why do her parents stop looking for Ellie? Do both, either or neither of them think she is dead before she writes to Megan? Would Megan really wait so long before telling Leo she had? (hide spoiler)]

  • Fleme Varkey
    2019-03-08 10:30

    This is as strange and gripping as it gets. The Child Who’s content ensnares you so completely that you will be bound to follow the case to the end. When I opened the book titled The Child Who I was not prepared for the avalanche that lay within. Stunning, thought-provoking call it what you may but Simon Lelic sure knows how to hold the readers’ attention. When you have so many stories of crime and assault all around you, one tends to become insensitised to what the truth actually is. It’s rarely that a story comes out and knocks the wind out of you. For me The Child Who is that story. The author’s previous books The Rupture and Felicity also dealt with some uncomfortable issues but with The Child Who Simon takes it a notch higher. The epigraph — a few chilling lines from Blake Simpson’s As If set the tone for the story. David Blake a 12-year-old has been discovered to have brutally killed a 11-year-old and many insinuate, he had ‘almost raped her’. While the reader is still trying to digest this fact, hoping that somewhere, something has gone wrong, David confesses to doing it Lelic drew inspiration from hearing a solicitor talk about the Jamie Bugler murder. This murder had shaken the foundations of law itself. On February 12, 1993 at a shopping center in Liverpool, England unfolded a chilling crime. Two harmless looking 10-year-old boys Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were seen walking out of the center with a two-year-old toddler, whom the world later came to know as Jamie Bugler. The boys left a horribly mutilated body of Jamie on the railway tracks and even their nonchalant behaviour after committing the crime was shocking. They were sentenced to custody until they reached adulthood, initially until the age of 18, and were released in June 2001. Lelic uses this as a peg for his story and spins into it the trauma of the families that are suffering as a result of David’s crime. What is suprising is that along with David another man’s life is going downhill — that of his lawyer Leonard Curtice. This turns out to be the most high profile and challenging case of his career. What Lelic attempts to show is that Daniel Blake is not the monster that everyone makes him out to be. What people do not realise he says is that he might have been a victim himself. With the mob baying for Daniel’s blood, will Leonard manage to keep things real? One of the most intriguing things about Lelic’s novel is that it does not take any sides, nor does it condemn David. The author gives the reader the freedom to decide. The Child Who definitely will count as one of Lelic’s best but there is something he can improve upon and that is loose endings.

  • Max Read
    2019-03-15 04:29

    “A murder mystery novel, unfulfilled”Simon Lelic hails from Brighton England where he was born in 1976 and where he moved back to after a decade spent in London. He received an MA in history from Exeter and later took a post graduate class in journalism. In addition to his writing, Simon operates an import/export business and has worked as a freelance journalist and in business-to-business publishing. Simon is currently pursuing his interest in writing novels of which he has three: “Rupture”, “The Facility” and “The Child Who”.“The Child Who” written by Simon Lelic is of the murder/mystery genre of fiction novels. The writing style is variously complex and lengthy with liberal use of commas and a mixed narration that mimics conversation at times. Occasionally, close attention is required to discern meaning where comma delimited references appear seeming to substitute for parenthetical references. The story in main is about a young boy, one Daniel Blake, who inexplicably murders his schoolmate Felicity Forbes and about a lawyer, one Leo Curtice and his family that becomes involved in the case when Leo attempts to represent Daniel before the court of jurisprudence and the court of public opinion.This novel seems to have some difficulty right from the start. There seems to be background missing that would ordinarily have provided the reader with a sense of the outrage that the author alludes to in the composition. While the murder by a 12 year old is certainly a horrific ordeal, the implication that the boy was publicly loathed just short of lynching just doesn’t surface. Add to this, then, the reaction of Leo Curtice’s family and things just don’t seem to fit right. The character development is also an issue; Daniel Blake seems almost alien, not unsympathetic and not characteristically what would be expected from a 12 year old either but not loathsome, and there lies the problem, because loathsome is what is required to sustain the plot. Leo Curtice provides another anomaly; he comes across as almost a dolt in his dealings with business partners and his family; and Megan, Leo’s wife and daughter Ellie come across as a narcissists. All in all a strange compendium of characters which do not seem to support the plot development and leave you with a raised eyebrow and that unfulfilled feeling, especially at the twist in the conclusion which in many ways is incomprehensible.I would recommend this novel only with reservations. I don’t think the plot development and the characters are particularly satisfying. I would rate this work “Pleasurable but not memorable”.

  • Tasmin
    2019-03-09 05:17

    I found this book difficult to rate. It was a slightly surreal read for me as it was both set in Exeter, my university town, and about a topic that I am currently exploring in my dissertation. Most of the negatives I am going to mention are probably a result of the fact that I've read a lot about child-by-child homicide (particularly the Venables and Thompson trial and the Mary Bell trial) over the past year for my dissertation. It was obvious that this book was massively influenced by the James Bulger case and because of this there was a sense that I had read this story before. The behaviour of the press, the mobbing crowds, the questioning about whether a killer should be living in luxury, the grief of the victim's parents, the accused boy's penchant for truancy and 'odd behaviour' were all incredibly similar to what happened during the James Bulger case. At times it felt like the author had mashed together elements of the James Bulger and Mary Bell cases and changed a few details. I felt like the author might have had a checklist of things that usually make up child-by-child homicide cases: give the accused child a history of sexual abuse, give him a negative relationship with his working class parents, make him a frequent truant, make him of average intelligence, make him prone to violent outbursts. The result was that the book felt a little bit formulaic at times. I must reiterate that most of my misgivings about the book definitely stemmed from my over familiarity with the Bulger case and I can't really criticise the author for doing a lot of research. Yet, the positives far outweighed the negatives for me. I thought the bits of the book that were fully original (Leo's relationship with his family, his daughter disappearing, his relationship with Daniel) were very good. I definitely didn't anticipate any of the major plot twists in the book and I was thoroughly surprised by both the climax of the book and the ending. I also thought that Leo's realisation that, although he didn't agree with the way Daniel was treated and wanted 'better' for him, when he found himself in the position of losing a child he too was desperate for revenge and blood was quite truthful and profound in a way. I did think that the daughter running away and letting her parents think she was dead for years and years was a bit unbelievable. I understand she was scared but that's really quite selfish for a fifteen year old to do.I thought the writing was very good and pleasant to read and the pacing was good.

  • Julie - Book Hooked Blog
    2019-02-21 07:34

    The Child Who is a novel about a small-time defense attorney who answers a chance phone call and winds up with a case that gathers national media attention. Leo Curtice is assigned the defense of twelve year old Daniel Blake, who is accused of killing a young girl. But the media frenzy leads to a community who wants blood for the horrible crime and soon Curtice finds his family threatened.WritingI was impressed with the writing right up until the end of the book, when the final plot twist just killed it for me. The ending ruined everything about the writing for me - the suspense of the novel, the reason for caring about the characters, everything. Because the book is told in flashbacks, we know from the beginning that Curtice's family has been torn apart by the case - his daughter has been abducted and never found. The entire book hinges on this, and then (highlight to see spoilers): at the end there is a miraculous discovery that magically fixes everything so the family can be a family again.I was not pleased.But other than that, I found the writing to really be nice and lean towards the literary side of things, which is always nice in a thriller.Entertainment ValueIt's not a thriller, but I was definitely in suspense over the ending until I actually reached the ending. I won't say that I hated the book, I was just really let down. While I was reading, I was loving the story. I liked the twelve year old boy as a character (I have thing for evil children) and I really liked Leo Curtice and the position he was put in where he had to choose between his duty as a lawyer/the largest case of his career and his responsibility to protect his family. I just really disliked the neat ending. The book was real and gritty and harsh, but the ending took away from that and made it really trite.OverallIt's a good suspense book. And I loved that it leaned more towards an introspective, literary plot than a chop 'em up, gory, murder fest that many thrillers become. It left me tense and anxious to see what would happen. But then when it wrapped up and the secrets were revealed, I was greatly underwhelmed. I feel like readers who enjoy a neatly tied up ending will be put off by the literary aspects of this book and those who are attracted to the literary aspects will be put off my the very simple ending.

  • Shannon
    2019-03-07 06:40

    I won The Child Who: A Novel in a Goodreads giveaway. In Simon Lelic's novel, Leo Curtice is a solicitor who has the lucky break of answering the phone at the right time to catch a big, career-making case. He'll be representing a twelve year old boy accused of brutally murdering a girl his same age. With the community already having decided on the child's guilt, it soon becomes apparent the hostility Leo will face as he tries to understand his client and searches for reasons why such a tragic and horrifying crime could occur. The hostility is not limited to the community, but also from the boy's mother and stepfather and even from Leo's own wife and daughter, both of whom have experienced some terrifying events as a result of Leo's having taken on the case. As Leo digs deeper and spends more time trying to help his client, his own family falls apart.I admired the author's writing and found the story to be very compelling. In addition to the plot surrounding the preparation for the boy's arraignment, there is the mystery of who is sending Leo threatening notes as well as the anticipation of what will happen to Leo's family. In the opening of the novel the reader learns that ten years later Leo and his wife Meg are no longer married, and that Leo's taking the case led to the loss of their daughter Ellie. Most of the story takes place during the boy's incarceration leading up to the trial, with occasional chapters that take place ten years after. Leo Curtice is a character who demonstrates concern and compassion when so few others do, even as his own family meets with senseless tragedy. He can't help but question how society could have failed a troubled child and wonder if his client really is to blame given the circumstances of his upbringing. I felt Leo's frustration at every turn and wanted to find out more about this child. And the other major mystery of the plot was also very interesting. The Child Who: A Novel is a fascinating and exciting thriller.

  • Jessica Gaskin
    2019-02-22 07:33

    An intriging plot line, exploring similar themes to We Need to Talk About Kevin but from a different angle. The responsibility of a child for their actions, when their actions are deplorable. At what age does a child really become responsible, and if they are not fully responsible then who is? The role of the parents and home life is explored here but not as fully. The role of society and the responsibility of society take centre stage here, with the novel focussing on the many times the child had been punished for demonstrating a lack of moral judgement, and yet the lack of any help given to the child. Thus suggesting that society (in the form of teachers, social workers etc) had ignored the fact that he clearly had not learnt right from wrong at home. Does their lack of action make them partly to blame? The role of the law is also explored, the lawyer becomes a human being in a way that is quite rare in thrillers. The focus is on him and his family as opposed to either the culprit or the victim. The contradictions inherent in balancing morality and humanity with the law are also explored, leading to problems for the protagonist and his family. Another aspect explored is the role of the media and public opinion in the justice system.As my extensive ramblings hint at, I found the plot to be very thought-provoking and somehow fresh, despite the well documented theme. The story was entirely gripping - I read it in less than two (working) days. The characters are mostly well developed. There was something lacking for me, and I think this lay in the way the plot was developed. The story seemed to lurch from chapter to chapter in a way that did not add to the development of the story. It also lacked the haunting depth of We Need to Talk About Kevin, which stays with the reader long after finishing the book. This is more of a page-turner, but a good one and worth the easy read! (I was wavering between 3 and 4 stars. I'd say its more of a 3.5!

  • Tony
    2019-03-09 06:26

    THE CHILD WHO. (2012). Simon Lelic. ****. This was the author’s second novel, and another fine example of his writing skill. In this tale, a solicitor from a law firm just happens to answer the phone at his office and is told of the need of legal services for a young boy, and is asked to come down to the station. When he gets there, he Daniel Blake, a twelve-year-old boy prime suspect in the murder of a twelve-year-old girl. The murder was particularly horrible; the girl was killed by blunt impact with a rock, then strangled, then abused sexually, then, finally dumped into the river Exe. The boy is less than communicative with the barrister, Leonard (Leo) Curtis. Curtis agrees to take on the case – against his better judgement. Reaction to the killing reaches a fever pitch in the small town outside Exeter, and Curtis finds himself assailed on every side, even by his co-workers at the office. When he finally breaks through, Daniel admits that he committed the crime, and that he is sorry. Leo then has to devise some form of defense for the boy, and calls in help where he can find it. He is left with two choices: guilty, or not guilty because of diminished responsibility. Evaluation by a psychiatrist shows that the boy is not retarded, though his IQ is on the low side. As the case proceeds, Leo begins to get threatening notes from an anonymous source, threatening him and his wife and daughter. The strain on him and his family mounts. We get to follow the path of this trial preparation and the townspeople’s responses, and begin to feel apprehensive for the ultimate outcome. Mr. Lelic is able to build tension throughout, and introduces a couple of surprise twists into the story that make us sit back on our heels. We are in the hands of an accomplished story teller. Recommended.