Liz Nutting's Reviews > A Thousand Cuts

A Thousand Cuts by Simon Lelic
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Jun 09, 10

bookshelves: mystery-thriller, kindle
Read from June 03 to 08, 2010

A Thousand Cuts is compelling and timely reading. Lelic uses the conventions of a detective novel to explore some of the most relevant social themes of our era, bullying and the violence it begets. There's no real "mystery" to the book. As it opens, the central event has already taken place: a teacher has opened fire on a school assembly, killing three students, another teacher and himself. Lucia May is the homicide detective assigned to the case, a case that everyone from the school principal to her own police administration views as closed before it's begun. But despite the pressure to write a boiler plate report and move on, May seeks to understand what prompted the shooter to act and uncovers patterns of bullying that have long been ignored and allowed to fester. But what to do about them? What can be done?

The novel peels back the events like an onion, interspersing the third-person account of May's investigation with first person police interviews with witnesses--students, colleagues and family to the shooter. What is remarkable is how well the author has captured each individual voice, making the characters eerily real and full-bodied. When one considers that this is the first published novel by Simon Lelic, the feat is even more striking--and bodes well for future stories he has to tell.
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