Tuesday 11 December 2018

Revenge served cold is best

Crime: One Good Reason, Susan Stairs, Hachette Ireland €15.99

One Good Reason
One Good Reason

Margaret Carragher

Though wholly a work of fiction, Susan Stairs's latest novel was inspired by real events: a violent break-in during a party in her home some years ago. Despite the severity of the crime only one of its perpetrators was punished. The others walked free. All too often, Stairs observes in the book's acknowledgements, the victims of crimes are the ones who end up paying the price.

This is indeed the case in One Good Reason, whose wonderfully descriptive prologue refers portentously to "human remains that lie half hidden under... shady figs..." The narrative then rewinds to March 2015 with its main protagonist Laura Pierce hell-bent on revenge for a savage break-in to her family home.

In its aftermath Laura's father Karl, though devastated by the trauma inflicted on his family, was hopeful that justice would prevail. But when all three perpetrators walked free from court the injustice was too much. A week after the verdict, Karl Pierce was struck by a fatal heart attack. Now Laura is en route to the south of France to seek an apology from Paddy Skellion, father of one of the offenders - at least that's what she tells her mother Angela, who, since her husband's death has become mired in grief, a mere shadow of her former self. Because for all that Laura recognises the grief and sorrow of others, such emotions are foreign to her. Anger, deceit, revenge - now they make sense.

And so, moving in with her godfather who lives in Nice, Laura sets about seeking retribution. Because a mere apology was never going to suffice. What Laura wants is to see Paddy Skellion squirm, to humiliate him as he humiliated her father with a triumphalist V-sign outside the courthouse on the day his son walked free. Against the better judgment of her godfather - who knows more about Skellion's dark side than he's prepared to reveal - Laura concocts an elaborate ruse. But even the best laid plans can go awry. With devastating consequences... Simmering with repressed rage from the off, this complex tale of revenge, betrayal and loss is an absolute cracker.

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