Rupture, by Simon Lelic

I’ve just finished reading Rupture, by Simon Lelic. I found it when I was checking out the lovereading website, bought it the next day and finished the 300 odd pages in a couple of sittings after being completely absorbed by a brilliantly structured and totally different crime thriller.

The structure is reminiscent of Kurosawa’s Rashomon; a tragic event told from the point of view of a host of characters, all giving their unique perspective on what happened, slowly shifting the reader’s perception- and sympathy- as the facts emerge.

Rupture follows the investigation of a shooting in a secondary school in London, after a teacher opens fire in the assembly hall, killing pupils and teachers before turning the gun on himself. The investigation is led by Lucia May, a detective who takes a keen interest in the life of the shooter, Samuel Szajkowski. Her investigation begins to unravel a sinister web of secrets and silence at the heart of the school

The plot unfolds cleverly, through about 15 different first-person narratives. These range from pupils at the school, teachers, parents of the victims and relatives of the killer. Each one is conducted as a police interview, and each alluding to Lucia’s presence as they talk, though Lucia’s voice is never heard during these monologues, giving them a powerful confessional tone. Each one also has a different pace and flow of language, depending on the person, with Lelic creating character brilliantly through his use of vernacular-every one of them providing telling clues about the state of Samuel’s mind in the lead up to the shooting.

Lucia’s story is told in the third person and her story the similarities with her own life become increasingly apparent as Lucia struggles to cope at work. As she retraces the final days of Samuel Szajkowski’s life, the narrative grips, with every monologue ramping up the sense of dread and impending tragedy.

It’s a book that looks at the level of trust we put in positions of authority, the violence that is meted out in the playground and the powerlessness to understand what evil lurks in the hearts of men, but the overarching theme looks at bullying. Every character comes into contact with it in some form; either suffering it, ignoring it or inflicting it. As the book draws to a close, you are hit with an interesting question – how much sympathy can you feel for a murderer?

I read a quote from Chuck Palahniuk, where he said; “maybe you don’t go to hell for the things you do. Maybe you go to hell for the things you don’t do.” Which rings true for every character in this book.

The ending did leave me a little disappointed, not giving me the resolution I was hoping for, but that is perhaps the point – and pushes home a powerful message.

Overall, this is a cracking read. I was gripped. The structure puts a fresh spin on the crime/ police thriller and Lelic’s writing is concise and taut and delivers a hefty emotional punch. I’m already looking forward to reading his new book, The Facility. If it’s anywhere near as good as this book, it’ll be a winner.

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