Joyce's Reviews > A Very Simple Crime

A Very Simple Crime by Grant Jerkins
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's review
Jun 10, 11

Read in December, 2010

A Very Simple Masterpiece

If you are looking to read a mystery with a blatant psychological edge, this is the new book for you. Nothing is really simple about A Very Simple Crime except the short, direct sentences and chapters. The prose is not ensconced in metaphors, it is direct and there are many zinger phrases, "can I acknowledge......that I was attracted to mental illness....Darkness is drawn to darkness." And dark is this novel, one feels drawn down to deeper levels alongside the characters.

None of the characters is likeable or sympathetic. Two brothers Monty and Adam Lee, become orphaned after their parents' violent death. They are relegated to their aunt's dark basement for their living quarters. Adam, the narrator, is comfortable in the gloomy basement where he and his brother enjoy being sequestered. Monty is handsome and bright and grows up to be a successful criminal defense attorney. He appears to be "his brother's keeper." Adam works for his father-in-law after he marries Rachel who is paranoid and consumed with jealousy. She exists on drugs and alcohol and becomes agoraphobic. They have a child, Albert, who initially seems to be a normal infant but he becomes a lumbering retarded young man who is sent to an institution. He is violent and only reaches a five-year-old intellectual level.

Adam plods along in his narration, seemingly trapped in a sick marriage, and the reader is only given glimpses into his psyche. He professes his love for his wife and admiration for his perfect brother. The reader purposely cannot grasp his covert feelings. Grant Jerkins keeps us wondering how this horrific family portrait will play out. We know from early on that Adam is accused of killing his wife and Monty is defending him at the trial. As the narrator, he reminds us of his faithfulness to Rachel and then his sexual depravity as his son becomes older.

Jerkins adds subordinate characters who are fascinating and contribute to this very simple crime. There are the women: Violet Perkins, nursing assistant, Anne Hunter, journalist, Paula Manning, prosecutor, and Mrs. Herbert Watkins, tourist. The men also distinguish the plot: Leo Hewitt, attorney, Box Fox, prosecutor and Mr. Herbert Watkins, tourist. The author doesn't waste his characterizations, there is a sense of purpose

Amid the darkness, there are obsessions with retribution, brutality, madness and sheer violence. It all seems so simple as the reader peers into the darkness and sees what the author want us to perceive. Highly recommended.
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