The Boy Who Shoots Crows
Randal Silvis


ISBN-10:
042524346X
ISBN-13: 978-0425243466
Publisher: Penguin Group
Line: Berkley Trade
Release Date: Dec 6, 2011
Pages: 368
Retail Price: 15.00



Genre: Mystery
Rating:

Yesterday, a local boy went missing in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Transplanted painter Charlotte Dunleavy was used to seeing him go into the woods, rifle in hand, to shoot at crows. Suffering from the debilitating aftereffects of a migraine, Charlotte is shrouded in a fog of pain and barely remembers the details of the day, just splinters of memory, as if they were a dream-but nothing concrete enough to help the local sheriff in his search.

Outside of Charlotte's windows, the woods are peaceful, the play of light and dark among the leaves offering her inspiration for her art. But the truth can penetrate even the deepest shadows of a forest-and a killer's mind...

 


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Review

Twelve-year-old Jesse Rankin eats his breakfast one morning, but doesn’t show up at school. His backpack is still at home, but his hunting vest, boots, and shotgun are missing. It’s not the first time young Jesse has skipped school to shoot crows, but he’s never been gone this long. His mother Lizzie is frantic, afraid there has been an accident or something worse that has happened to her son. Artist Charlotte Dunleavy may have important information about the boy’s whereabouts, but her memory is clouded by the effects of a severe migraine, so Sheriff Marcus Gatesman is left with a lot of questions and a possible tragedy on his hands.

The Boy Who Shoot Crows is a beautifully written book with passages that often read like poetry. Most of the story is told form Charlotte’s point of view. Charlotte is very unusual for the lead character.  She is beautiful and talented, but troubled. She can be caring and generous and then turn around and be reserved and selfish. She is having a hard time dealing with the aftermath of a failed marriage and finds it hard to fit in with the others in the small town in Pennsylvania. There is obvious chemistry between Charlotte and the county sheriff, Marcus Gatesman, whose wife and daughter died several years ago, but she becomes hysterical after agreeing to go for sushi with him and the date doesn’t happen. She is friends with a neighbor and later forms a tentative friendship with Lizzie, but her own fears get in the way.

While most stories of missing children are tragic, this book is especially haunting and sad. It is full of foreboding and all of the signs are there telling the reader what happened to Jesse, but all the while I hoped I was reading them wrong. Portions of the book are so fraught with tension, it’s hard to keep reading, but it’s also impossible to put down.

It’s difficult to fully comment on the book without giving away the ending. It is more a novel of psychological suspense than a mystery since it doesn’t seem there is much investigating being done by the sheriff or the state police even though foul play seems probably and there are more than a couple of solid suspects. Maybe the reader is supposed to assume there is more investigating going on than is mentioned, but it doesn’t seem like Marcus is looking for clues or trying to figure out the ones he has. He is supposed to be an intelligent, competent sheriff, so for me, this takes away from the story.

While this is a well-written book, it is not for everyone. The tone is similar to some of the stand alone novels by Ruth Rendall. While it’s not a book I will soon forget, it’s also not one I would want to re-read. The ending wasn’t shocking to me, but it was disturbing. Feelings of sadness linger after finishing the book, so while that’s a testament to the skill of the author, this book isn’t for everyone. At the beginning of the novel, Sheriff Gatesman thinks to himself,

“It was at times such as this that he felt unsuited for his job. He had not anticipated so much sadness.”

This line perfectly sums up the downside of Marcus’s job as sheriff, as well as my feelings toward The Boy Who Shoots Crows.

Reviewed by Christine


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