I’m getting in a little bit early with this month’s Pink Fibro Bookclub discussion post about An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire, mostly because, in case you missed it, I’m starting a new manuscript tomorrow and things are going to get busy.
I confess that I inhaled this book, albeit with moments where I needed to put it down, walk away and have a little think about it. It’s one of the most unusual crime novels I’ve ever read because the focus is not so much on what happened or who did it as it is on why it happened and who is left behind.
When Chris’s sister Bella is murdered, her life and their small home town are turned upside down. Giving Chris’s perspective on the crime and the unfolding story puts us on the other side of the story from most crime novels. The investigation plays out, we see the police at work, but it’s almost a subplot to the real story, which is all Chris’s, interspersed with the self-loathing voice of May, who is not only an outsider, but representing the dreaded media.
I found the narrative voice of Chris to be one of the most interesting and refreshing I’ve read in a long time and she has stayed with me. Emily Maguire has done a masterful job of making her someone we both like and weep for, cheering for her even as we sometimes cringe at her decisions. And that’s where the really interesting aspect of the novel is for me, making us question the media coverage of such cases, the social media response, the public outrage, the role of casual violence in our society, the picking over of victim’s lives and our judgement of such.
As a regular reader of crime novels, this novel managed to make murder very personal for me in a way that many don’t. When we do finally reach the point where the whodunnit is solved – the zenith of most crime novels – it almost feels like an afterthought, an anti-climax, because, by then, we’re so thoroughly invested in Chris and her story.
A really interesting and thought-provoking novel.
What did you think of An Isolated Incident? Share your thoughts here in the comments, or join us in the Facebook group.