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A Child's Book of True Crime [Signed]

Hooper, Chloe

515 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0224062379 / ISBN 13: 9780224062374
Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2002
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Browsers' Bookstore, CBA (Corvallis, OR, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Signed. First Edition. First Australian edition. Signed and dated in Melbourne. With sheet about her signing at Readings Books & Music in Australia laid in. Fine copy. No dust jacket as issued. Though not marked, from the collection of Mel Waggoner, host of the public radio program "Profiles" which interviewed authors. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000088749

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Bibliographic Details

Title: A Child's Book of True Crime [Signed]

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf

Publication Date: 2002

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

In a small town near Port Arthur in Tasmania in the mid-nineties, Kate Byrne is having an affair with the father of her most gifted student. As the young teacher's sexual life is awakened by the father in scenes of escalating eroticism, the guilt she feels towards the son is compounded. Meanwhile, Veronica, her lover's wife, has just published Murder at Black Swan Point, a true crime book about the brutal slaying of a young adulteress some years before, set in a nearby town.

Kate becomes fixated on the unsolved crime of passion that occurred years earlier, less and less aware of her own reputation in the present. Is it her imagination, or is someone stalking her? Is she caught playing a game where she no longer knows the rules? Has her obsession with the crime aligned her fate with that of the murdered adulteress?

Review:

Penzler Pick, February 2002: Chloe Hooper has chosen to explore the dark terrain of obsession in this, her first novel.

Kate Byrne teaches fourth grade students in Tasmania, the large island off the mainland of Australia. Young, awkward, and not very self-assured, Kate becomes involved in an affair with Thomas Marne, the father of one of her students, Lucien, a charismatic but withdrawn youngster. Kate worries about him and the dark nature of some of his drawings, and she worries that Lucien may be having problems with his mother, Veronica, and her career as a bestselling true crime writer.

Veronica's book is currently on the bestseller list and she is busy promoting it. The book, Murder at Black Swan Point, tells the story of one of the most notorious crimes in the area. In 1983 a young woman, Ellie Siddell, was brutally murdered by the wife of the man with whom she was having an affair. The wife's car was found at the edge of a cliff, and it was commonly believed that she threw herself off it, although her body was never found. Years later, Veronica was able to interview the husband before he died, and this interview, as well as some of the crime scene evidence, is explored in her book. She feels that there may be another explanation for the murder of Ellie and the wife's subsequent disappearance.

Kate finds herself both charmed and appalled by Veronica when she visits her son at the school, but Kate also becomes obsessed with the murder and finds herself drawn to Black Swan Point. As the details of Ellie Siddell's death are slowly revealed and the affair between Kate and Thomas gets more obsessive, it becomes obvious that history may repeat itself.

The action pauses throughout A Child's Book of True Crime for an account of the murder at Black Swan Point written for children, with animals indigenous to the continent of Australia taking the parts of the people involved. It is not until the end of the novel that we find out who is writing this story and why. Kate also involves her students in discussions involving everything from the meanings of words to ethical questions concerning behavior and whether actions have consequences.

One of the strong points of the narrative is the description of Tasmania and its history. Like much of Australia, Tasmania was a penal colony, and the history of the region involves the lives of the convicts. Children visit the prisons on field trips. The animals they encounter play a part in their everyday lives and are also very different for the non-Australian reader, making this not only an eerie read but also an instructive one. This is a story guaranteed to stay with you long after you've closed the covers. --Otto Penzler

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