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A Child's Book of True Crime

3.01  ·  Rating details ·  595 ratings  ·  63 reviews
Kate Byrne is having an affair with the father of her most gifted pupil, Lucien. Unnervingly, her lover's wife has just published Murder at Black Swan Point, a true crime novel about the brutal slaying of a young adulteress. Suspecting the adult account of Black Swan Point's murder to be wrong, Kate imagines her own version of the novel, for children, narrated by Australia ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published November 7th 2002 by Vintage (first published March 5th 2002)
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3.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  595 ratings  ·  63 reviews


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Trevor
Jan 10, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
You know, there were bits of writing in this that were so good, so terribly, terribly good it was such a shame this ended up being such a crap novel.

And it could have been fixed so easily. The main character was the problem - there is a lesson here - don't make the thickest person in the book your central character - particularly if you are going to make her the narrator.

I’m going to spoil this book for you now, so stop reading this if you are going to read it.

The story is about a young woman w
...more
Nicola
Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
'Precocious' is the word that springs to mind. The protagonist of A Child's Book of True Crime, a 22-year-old ingénue who splits her time between teaching schoolchildren and sleeping with a married man, is certainly precocious.

The themes of the novel, too, are precocious -- often delightfully so. True Crime delves into the uneasy (and not-at-all-distant) past of the Australian island of Tasmania, where former jails (and scenes of horrific torture) are now fudge factories and tourist attractions.
...more
Lea
Dec 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an uneasy story of a young woman who is teaching in a secluded Tasmanian township. She is having an affair with the father of one of her students, and as the story progresses, gradually seems to become unravelled as she obsesses about an earlier crime; the murder of a young adultress, that is being written about by the wife of her lover. Kate, the main character, seems to imagine the story as told by Australian animals as a children's story. As the story continues, she becomes less and l ...more
Emelinemimie
Jul 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
A very atmospheric novel, which left a taste of tasmania and a feeling of threat every time I put it down. I loved how the main plot intertwined with that of a previous murder, so much so that I sometimes seemed to forget whether it was written in the 1st or 3rd person. I really enjoyed how the world is seen repeatedly through adult's and children's eyes and how those visions reverse the stereotypical representations of childhood innocence. Not five stars because there was something that did not ...more
Claire Watt
This is more 2.5 stars than 3. I found this book quite difficult to get into, mostly because the characters were not particularly likeable and I struggled to find any empathy for the protaganist. It picked up towards the end and became quite a good study in obsession and paranoia but then didn't really take that anywhere. I also took issue with an Australian author continuously referring to a koala as a bear. It was my understanding that that the intention behind those parts of the book was that ...more
Philippa
Jul 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
Review published in the New Zealand Herald, 4 January 2003

A Child's Book of True Crime
Chloe Hooper
Vintage, $? price not given

This debut novel by a young Australian has received glowing reviews overseas and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize. Compelling yet disturbing, A Child's Book of True Crime is definitely an adult read.
The plot has several overlapping strands. The central story is about a 22-year-old teacher, Kate, who has embarked on an affair with Thomas, the father of her brightest stu
...more
Talya Rubin
Apr 04, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: the curious with time to spare
Chloe Hooper's debut novel is a mixed bag that does not quite pull off what it sets out to achieve, or was possibly never clear as to what that was in the first place. The "True Crime" genre is explored but not pushed far enough. The parallel narrative from the Australian bush is truly charming and almost works to illuminate the main plot and parody the genre, but doesn't quite make it. Somehow the chracter of Kate Byrne, an elementary school teacher in Tasmania who gets entangled in a dangerous ...more
Charmaine Clancy
May 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aussie
Seems from the reviews, you either hate or love this story. I'm on the lovin' side.

It is an uncomfortable narrative, and at time the protagonist is quite selfish and grates on the reader. However, there is a raw honesty in the voices of this story. I found it an impressively smooth transition between the current difficulties of the protagonist, torn between her affair, her role as teacher to her lover's son and the pull of her own moral compass, the background story of a woman driven to murder w
...more
Peta
Oct 05, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this book started out really well, it was so interesting and original. However, I think about 2/3s of the way through it gets annoying... I almost couldn't be bothered finishing it. The main character gets so confused and messy in her head, its just annoying.
John Neuhaus
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Strange and highly imaginative story . A fantasy, thriller and black comedy all at the same time. May not the best read if you are planning a relaxing tour of Tasmania anytime soon (unless you are into Tassie Gothic of course).
Ujala Rao
Oct 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Typical to Hooper’s post colonial gothic style, this novel features a current of disconcertion that ends in an anticlimax. The central protagonist’s voice is cleverly constructed to fit between one of childlike helplessness and despairing adulthood. An interesting and frustrating read as Hooper draws you through different narrative frames
Ruth
Feb 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime
Some of the writing was so fantastic, and I was engaged with the story, but the end was very unsatisfying.
Lucy
Jun 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's alright, partly good. Somehow, it falls short. I'm not sure she was sure exactly what she wanted to do with this novel. But there it is. Worth a read, for sure.
Deidre Le Maistre
It wasn't really my style. Found some parts a bit hard to follow.
Trish
Dec 09, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short, lyrical novel that deals with one of my favorite subjects: crime.

Kate Byre is truly on her own for the first time, and she's making a mess of it. She's a teacher in a small town in Australia, and she's having an affair with the father of her favorite student, the precociously intellectual Lucien. Lucien's mother has written a "true crime" account of a notorious local murder, the brutal slaying of veterinary assistant Ellie Slidell, another young woman on her own and having an affair wi
...more
Jennifer
Jun 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers interested in a creepy but highly original story
Recommended to Jennifer by: Jonathan H
I gave this book four stars, but using the phrase "I really liked it" doesn't quite apply. This book got my attention, creeped me out, and made me think. It's partially the story of Kate Byrne, a young primary school teacher in an out of the way island town in Tasmania. She is having an affair with Thomas, the father of one of her students, the somewhat creepily precocious Lucien. Thomas's wife, Veronica, has recently published a true crime novel focused on a famous murder in the area. Fifteen y ...more
Jessica
Dec 15, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jess
After being impressed by the clarity and honesty of The Tall Man (criticisms re: the overuse of WEH Stanner aside), I was keen to read Chloe Hooper's debut novel published some years earlier. A friend of mine had recommended it to me - although recommend is probably not quite the right term; rather, she said, "This is a strange book and I would like to know what you think." It IS a strange book but I'm still not sure what I think. The concept is interesting but I did not find that Hooper had pul ...more
Chaitra
I want to say I didn't get this book, but the truth is, I don't even know if there was anything to get. Any time I pulled this book open, I felt the powerful urge to sleep. I really didn't need to sleep, because I'd pick up another book and would be able to read it without so much as a yawn. I tried several times to read it, before I eventually forced myself to finish it in one sitting. My eyes were open, and I'm sure I read all the lines, but I took in very little.

And from what I did, I didn't
...more
Jerfus
Jun 24, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Mediocre at best; this book only succeeds in attempting to be original. The formula followed is that of a rather dull affair which is tried to be complemented by not one but two subplots which showed some promise but both ended failing at offering any worthy. There are warnings about how the book will end and although the author attempts to write it both as a casual and -at the same time- cliff-hanger ending the result is a rather unimpressive 'surprise'. Add to that dull characters, bland plot ...more
Asha Stark
When I started this book, I could tell straight away I wasn't going to enjoy the writing style, but the book's blurb intrigued me enough to keep reading.

Easily one of the most inane books I've ever read, I feel like the critics who raved about this were mostly just excited about an Australian author being noted, than the actual book.

The characters- all of them- are thoroughly unlikeable, the setting is unlikeable, the digressions into introspective philosophy are gag-worthy and overall, there a
...more
Adrienne
Oct 17, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm abandoning this book for a while. Don't know if I care to finish it.
Definitely an interesting idea but I dislike the execution.
It's hard to follow what is going on sometimes and it would it would start reading smoothly until they are in the car for 4 pages and she's throwing out unnecessary adjectives to sound like a writer.

Also, I've realized following characters having affairs doesn't strike my fancy.
I'm pre-disposed to dislike them, because it says a lot about their character no matter w
...more
Joan Colby
Mar 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-written and intriguing novel by a young Australian author. The subject is infidelity and its consequences. The heroine Kate is having an affair with the father of her young student whose mother is a true crime author who has written a book covering a murder predicated on infidelity. There are parallels between Kate's affair, the true crime, and the child Lucien's writings and drawings. Accompanying the main text is a supposed child's book with animal characterstht is focused on murder and ...more
Angie
Nov 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of Kate who is having an affair with the father of her most gifted 4th grader Lucien. Lucien's mother has just published a true crime story about the murder of a young adulteress in a nearby town. Kate becomes obsessed with the murder and she becomes convinced that Lucien's mother is plotting to kill her. The story takes place in Tasmania and the author effectively brings the geography into the story of Kate's breakdown. It is a very original and disturbing story, well worth th ...more
Stephanie
Feb 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kind of bizarre, but in a way I really liked. Children’s story starring talking animals are used at the start of chapters to tie together an unsolved murder, the main character’s adultery and unraveling (and belief that she is going to die in the same way as the unsolved case), and a bit about environmentalism, the innocence of children, and even Tasmanian history. Some familiar themes, but approached in an original way.
zespri
Dec 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wriiten by Australian author Chloe Hooper.

A young teacher is posted to a remote area in Tasmania where she becomes involved with the father of one of her pupils. The wife has written a real -life crime novel set in the area, and as Kate writes her own version of the murder for children (through the words of animals) she seems to be more out of touch with her own reality.

A good page turner, and gave me some very interesting insights into early Tasmania as a penal colony of Britain.
Holly
Jan 21, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Silly and empty book about a young woman teacher in a small town in Australia who has an affair w/ a married man. This man is both the father of one of her students and also married to a local celebrity who recently wrote a book about a local unsolved murder. The teacher inevitably starts to find parallels between this older murder and the actions of her own life. Lacks purpose and potential; best parts are when Hooper brings in some pop child psychology to spice it up.
Ange
Jan 27, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked parts of this novel, in particular some of the writing was really good, but it never hung together properly for me. Sometimes I think it's because my main reading time seems to be ten minutes or so on the train. I probably need to concentrate more. I liked the main character Kate, but I really disliked the animal sections with Kitty Koala and co. The idea was ok but the writing was a bit clunky.
Jodi
Nov 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as tightly wound as The Engagement, but very well written & unusual in regard to the woodland creatures, who put a different spin on what would otherwise be an ordinary crime novel.
a good example of how obsession can alter your perception of reality and manupilate the perceptions of others about who you are.
Terri
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There are some books that stay with you years later because they're incredible. Then there are those that stay with you because they're awful-this is the latter. The writing was ok, the narrative lacked any sort of focus and "ooomph". I felt so unhappy at ending this book simply because it was so disappointing.
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Chloe Hooper is an Australian author. Her first novel, A Child’s Book of True Crime (2002), was short-listed for the Orange Prize for Literature and was a New York Times Notable Book. In 2005, she turned to reportage and the next year won a Walkley Award for her writing on the death in custody of Cameron Doomadgee on Palm Island, an Aboriginal community off the north-east coast of Australia. The T ...more
“I'm like an old record--Be my guest is the signature song; Please go away, always on side B.” 2 likes
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