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MARTYN PIG by Kevin Brooks


by Kevin Brooks

Age Range: 11 - 15

Pub Date: May 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-439-29595-5
Publisher: Chicken House/Scholastic

This sometimes grossly funny, always absorbing gut-wrenching thriller tells the slippery-slope story of how a few (granted large) ethical missteps can send a character sliding down a moral mineshaft. After a sharply etched set-up that neatly lays out the grim life of 15-year-old Martyn Pig, the novel explodes into noir when the protagonist, a passionate mystery buff, shoves his angry, alcoholic father, who is coming at him, “with his fist raised above his head and drunken madness burning in his eyes.” Martyn’s father, who is too intoxicated to maintain his footing, accidentally falls, fatally cracking his head in the process. When Martyn finds out that his now-dead father is due to come into a substantial inheritance, greed takes over, and soon Martyn is plotting with his slightly older neighbor and best friend, a pretty, talented aspiring actress named Alex. As the determined amateurs orchestrate the grizzly disposal of the increasingly ripe corpse, Brooks piles on obstacles followed by complications. Just when the suspense becomes close to unbearable, he unleashes a completely unsuspected yet perfectly credible plot twist that will make readers smack their heads in disbelief, wondering how they could have missed something so obvious. Brooks does a good job of making his protagonist sympathetic and understandable without being likable, though he spends a little too much time on his internal ramblings, which slows the action without significantly adding to the reader’s insight. Still, a minor complaint in an otherwise provocative and engrossing debut. (Fiction. 11-15)