Crusher by Niall Leonard

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Crusher by Niall Leonard

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Tense and pacy YA thriller with a great central character and a twisty turny plot. A lot to like here.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: September 2012
Publisher: Doubleday
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 0857532081

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Finn's life isn't really going anywhere. He's working at Max Snax, a horrible fast food emporium. It's not fun. But you don't have many choices when you're a) dyslexic and b) your anger at your mother abandoning you has led to some bad behaviour and a criminal record. But Finn's dreary life is about to be turned upside down...

When his writer father is murdered in their own home, Finn finds himself the prime suspect in the crime. Realising the detective in charge of the case is only looking for an easy mark, Finn determines to find out what happened for himself. This leads him into London's underworld and a world of danger. Can he find the answers? Who can he trust? And will he make it out with his life?

There is much to like in Crusher. Finn is beautifully observed - a teenage boy in a world of trouble who is brave and persistent but who also inhabits a taciturn internal emotional landscape that readers will engage with. He wonders why he doesn't feel any grief over his father's death at several points throughout the book and he's aware that others would see this as unfeeling. But of course, he is grieving - there's just shock and numbness to get past first. Finn doesn't know that but his middle-aged reviewer does, and it made her like him immensely. There are some fantastic action scenes, including a truly great escape and a visceral fight. There's sex too, complete with fumbling and euphoria. Just as it should be when you're eighteen. The plot is cleverly worked through with all sorts of twists and turns and paced for breathlessness and page turning.

So far, so good. Crusher has all the ingredients of a great YA thriller - accessibility, character, plot, action, pacing. And they come together with great efficiency. But sometimes it's just a little bit too efficient. Leonard is an established screenwriter. So he's used to leaving a bit for the actors. Here, you get the feeling that there's just a little bit more we need from Finn in order to truly love him as a character. But there's no actor in a book and the words don't quite have it. And sometimes the narrative cuts from one place to another with little explanation. I kept thinking, "Oh, that's a cut". But books don't have cuts - TV shows do. So I would have preferred a bit more internalising and a bit less of the visual.

Nitpicking aside, I did enjoy Crusher and I think it will find plenty of fans. I'll certainly look forward to reading the second book about Finn.

PS: I got through the entire review without mentioning Fifty Shades but then couldn't resist. So I'm weak. Shoot me. If you're interested, google it.

This is very much a YA book - it has sex, graphic violence and all those other YA-not-teen whatnots. So, in that vein, I'm going to recommend Core of Evil by Nigel McCrery for further reading. It's also a crime novel by an author used to writing for TV. If you like the look of Crusher, it'll be right up your alley. You might also want to look at YA author Kevin Brooks' foray into noir crime for adults - Until the Darkness Comes. You might also enjoy Missing Dad: Wanted by J Ryan.

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Buy Crusher by Niall Leonard at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Crusher by Niall Leonard at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Crusher by Niall Leonard at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Crusher by Niall Leonard at


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