Seven years after the fact, the young survivor of a grisly massacre tells her harrowing story to a court-appointed psychiatrist.
When Anita Naidu, a skinny, tomboyish 13-year-old still reeling from the sudden death of her mother, relocates with her family from Leeds to London, she little expects that within months she will be famous. The only child to walk away from a shocking triple murder in 1986, her infamy is assured by her friendship with Kyle Kite, the neighborhood boy blamed for the deaths. As told to Dr. Barton, the police shrink who initially interviewed her after the trauma, 20-year-old Anita’s recollections of the events paint a complex portrait of childhood passions ran amok and warning signs left unheeded. Described in Anita’s lively slang-filled patois, Kyle emerges as a tortured and angry boy given to violent mood swings and verbal abuse. Living with his affable Scottish granddad and fragile, childlike mother, he has already been touched by tragedy (and suspicion) following the mysterious disappearance of his sweet little sister. Unpleasant though he can be, Kyle nonetheless possesses a fearless screw-the-world bravado that impresses lonely, half-Pakistani Anita and the equally unpopular Denis, a chubby, slightly dim schoolmate who rounds out their band of outsiders. The trio explores caves and scrapyards near the Thames, sharing adolescent kicks that come from the first taste of grown-up freedom. Their fun is shadowed, though, by Kyle’s creepy behavior. His acting out makes it clear to Anita that something is terribly wrong with her idolized friend. But wrong enough to kill? That it all goes very, very bad is a foregone conclusion, but talented debut author Way balances her chills and surprises with compassion and sophistication that rise above the genre.
A confident, literary psychological thriller.