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A Child's Book of True Crime
Synopses & Reviews
Kate Byrne is having an affair with the father of her most gifted fourth grader, Lucien. Her lover's wife has just published Murder at Black Swan Point, a true crime story about the brutal slaying of a young adulteress in a nearby town. When Lucien begins to display violent imagery in his crayon drawings, Kate wonders how well her pupil understands his mother's grisly work and why he's been exposed to it. Suspecting this account of Black Swan Point's murder to be inaccurate, Kate imagines another version of the story — for children, and narrated by Australian animals. But will her fixation with the crime — and Lucien's family — align her fate with that of the murdered girl?
In A Child's Book of True Crime, Chloe Hooper brilliantly portrays a young woman reluctant to enter or conform to the world of adults. Kate Byrne is enthralled by the lives of her nine-year-old students, while remaining a misfit among their parents. And though Lucien's father brings her to life sexually in encounters of escalating eroticism, he cannot dull her obsession with the past. Fixated on the crime of passion that occurred years earlier, Kate is becoming less and less aware of her own reputation in the present, an unraveling that Hooper captures so chillingly in this intense, superbly crafted first novel.
"Chloe Hooper is a novelist of undoubted power and remarkable literary skill." Fay Weldon, author of The Life and Loves of a She-Devil
"[An] assured and intricate first novel....Hooper encapsulates exactly what it means to leave childhood behind and learn about the painful realities of adult life." Vicky Hutchings, The New Statesman
"While the novel presents an essentially bleak and grisly view of the world, there are enough playful wit and muted eroticism about it for us to forgive the passages of dumbed-down history and amateur child psychology that inform it." Liam Davison, The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
"It's an ambitious book, far from the autobiography in disguise of so many first novels. It creates an atmosphere of spiralling tension, is highly imaginative, and is written with style and impressive control." Jason Steger, The Age (Australia)
"A Child's Book of True Crime may be the old, old story of the getting of wisdom, a 'goodbye-to-childhood book,' but its originality and ambition make it a deeply impressive debut." Mark Sanderson, The Sunday Telegraph (U.K.)
"Hooper's novel is tightly woven, so sophisticated, so full of sharp psychological truth and complex emotional and sexual life that you really have trouble believing it could be anyone's first book." Vince Passaro, O: The Oprah Magazine
"Chloe Hooper has hinged her captivating debut on [the] uncomfortable yet essential struggle between innocence and experience....[An] utterly beguiling novel." The Guardian (London)
"An erotic and creepy debut....Hooper — a confident if occasionally show-offy first-timer — doesn't provide much forward movement....Hooper deftly manuevers the reader to Kate's fragile point of view, with its obsessions — killing, writing — that are reminiscent of Susanna Moore's In the Cut. Sometimes a bit heavy on the atmosphere but nonetheless an affecting thriller that mixes just the right gothic chills with erotically charged suspense." Kirkus Reviews
"Perhaps the greatest mystery about this dark, witty, deeply felt, suspenseful, and erotic tale is how someone as young as Chloe Hooper comes to know so much, to write so well, to show such command of prose, storytelling, and passion." Judith Thurman, author of Secrets of the Flesh
"Hooper succeeds where far more seasoned writers often fall short — she forces open her material so that it resonates beyond itself, and she does this with a curiosity and an instinctive grace that bode very well for her writing future." Jennifer Egan, New York Times
About the Author
Chloe Hooper was born in 1973 and was educated at the University of Melbourne, Australia, and Columbia University, where she studied on a Fulbright Fellowship.
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