THE MURMUR OF STONES
Thomas H Cook

 


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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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