Slipknot by Priscilla Masters

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Slipknot by Priscilla Masters

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A thought-provoking and well plotted book which turns knife crime on its head. Recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 271 Date: July 2008
Publisher: Allison & Busby
ISBN: 978-0749079406

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Roger Gough was the victim – a sporty, funny and popular boy who was stabbed by the boy they were all calling a psycho and a loner. Callum Hughes bought a carving knife, a stone to sharpen it and then he used it on Roger Gough. Callum was the first to die. Apparently unable to face what he had done or to contemplate spending time in prison he hung himself with a length of computer cable in his cell. Initially it was thought that Roger Gough would pull through but he succumbed to a chest infection not long after Callum's death. Both boys were thirteen years old. You're thinking that this is a tragedy for Roger's family and that Callum was no great loss to the community, aren't you? Well, things are rarely what they seem.

Stabbings are very much in the news at the moment and it's easy to assume that you know who is the victim and who is the perpetrator. Coroner Martha Gunn isn't so certain once she hears that Callum had been bullied at school and that he was always the small boy, cleverer than most and an outsider. She has a son of the same age and she can't help but worry about Sam who's just gone off to school at Liverpool Football Academy. How will he cope with the changes?

This is the second book in the Martha Gunn series and given that I hadn't read the first and thoroughly enjoyed the second it can be assumed that they work well as stand-alone novels. There is something of a cliff-hanger in that there's a plot strand which isn't resolved which I imagine will be featured in the next book, but it's not so detailed that a quick summary won't bring the new reader up to date.

Priscilla Maters deserves to be more widely read. I didn't pick this book up with any great expectations – the title didn't give much away and the cover didn't really grab my attention but the story is thought-provoking and well-constructed. Who is the victim and who is the perpetrator when a boy is bullied to the point where he feels that he must do something to defend himself? Even then I thought that the out come was obvious – sad, but obvious, but Masters twists the knife a few more times and delivers a very satisfactory ending.

The characters hold you – it's difficult to imagine that you would warm to a boy who has just murdered his schoolmate, but I did and you couldn't help but feel for his mother, Shelley. There's the way too that the 'victim' is always sporty, funny and popular – no matter what the reality of the situation – and Masters captures well the way that the dead are never spoken ill of, until someone has the courage to speak the truth.

I'll be looking out for the next book in the Martha Gunn series and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending this book to The Bookbag.

Younger readers aware of the problem of knife crime might like to read The Knife That Killed Me by Anthony McGowan. Teacher's Dead by Benjamin Zephaniah was written with teens in mind but it's a book that could also be appreciated by adults.

Buy Slipknot by Priscilla Masters at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Slipknot by Priscilla Masters at

Buy Slipknot by Priscilla Masters at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Slipknot by Priscilla Masters at


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