US title - The Cloud of Unknowing
Quercus/Murdoch Books, this Edition first published: December 2006
Reviewed by Sally Roddom
Young Jason Regan has been found drowned in a pond near his home while in
the care of his brilliant scientist father, Mark. Mark was on the edge of
a brilliant scientific breakthrough, so was distracted by his research the
day Jason drowned. THE MURMUR OF STONES opens with the court handing down
the decision that no one was to blame for his death; Jason was a victim of
misadventure. The story of the aftermath of the decision is told through
the eyes of David Sears, Jason's uncle. The reader knows something big has
happened, but what it is, and who it has happened to is shielded until the
very end. David narrates the events in the book to Detective Petrie, who
was the police officer assigned to the search for the missing Jason.
David and his sister, Diana, survived being brought up by their paranoid
schizophrenic father who died when David was thirteen. Jason was also
diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia, and Diana feels great guilt as
she has handed the gene on to her son. David starts to worry as Diana
announces that she believes that her husband murdered her son, all she has
to do is prove it. With her growing obsession over researching the crime,
Diana starts to show the symptoms of the disease that destroyed her
father: symptoms like the inability to difference between real and
imaginary experiences, delusions and auditory hallucinations. Auditory
hallucinations are voices in the head, and David describes these voices as
the sounds of the murmur of stones. Many of the characters hear stones
murmuring, and eventually it gets to the point where it is hard to tell
the difference between the sane and the insane; to distinguish what is
real and what is delusionary, what to believe and what to dismiss.
A thriller doesn't need to get the pulses racing with high speed car
chases and explosions. A thriller can also get into your mind. It can
quietly get you to hold your breath and pause when you turn the page as
you don't know what's going to be revealed on the next page.
The chapters are short and full of ominous revelations, broken up by the
interview room scenes, where the questions are asked to get David to
relate more of the story. But are the revelations the truth or a delusion?
Is David to be relied on as a witness? What is he in the Police Station
being interviewed for?
This is a must read book, and I'll eat my hat if it doesn't win awards.
Thomas H Cook takes you on a journey into madness, where nothing can be
relied on. He leaves you panting and wondering about your own sanity.
Feb 2007 review originally published at Murder & Mayhem
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