Review Blog

Jan 05 2009

Murderer's thumb by Beth Montgomery

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Text Publishing, 2008 ISBN 978192136148 8
(Ages: 12+) Hiding from a violent father, Adam and his mother rent a small house on a farming property. Whole working with the farm hand, Loody, Adam discovers a body in the silage pit. Buoyed up by his grandfather's reputation as a consummate detective, Adam takes up this role with enthusiasm, unearthing clues around the farm as he follows the trail left by one of the missing girls, a Goth heavily involved with palmistry called Lina. The local policeman is not to be trusted, and Adam's school friends are suspicious of him. His eye trauma makes him stand out and he is ever distrustful when meeting new people.
An absorbing thriller, Montgomery gives us plenty of clues and red herrings in this isolated farming community, as Adam delves into the circumstances of the disappearance of the girls, six years before. Behind the investigation we see families at their worst. Adam and his mother snipe at each other, mum taking refuge in terrible pottery, while the farm where the daughter, Emma, disappeared has a mother in a cloud of anti-depressants and grief, her husband's gruff demeanor hiding his own sorrow.
Beautifully developed, the community is very real, hiding behind its inability to respond to the disappearance of the two girls and looking for easy answers. Each of the minor characters has a background which is tangible and extensive, adding to the readers' absorption in the tale. It seems to resolve itself a little too quickly, but the story is fascinating and holds the reader to the end.
Fran Knight

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