From the get-go, this gripping debut cannot help but make UK readers recall the tragic circumstances of the killing of young Jamie Bulger.
It treads similar territory, albeit fictional, but its author and the characters within the novel are fully aware of the comparisons between the cases and are at pains to treat the subject matter with compassion and never with a sensationalist eye. When an eight-year-old boy's body is discovered in a children's playground the fingers point at 11-year-old Sebastian, and troubled solicitor Daniel Hunter's new-found case all crash together to provide a deep and thought-provoking investigation into the crime and into the pasts of all of the characters. What shaped them, what made them the people they have become and who is ultimately responsible for the death of the child are all rising questions against the backdrop of a judicial system which struggles with just how the crime of child murder by a child should be best handled.
Daniel Hunter is a great creation - a runner - running every morning before court and running from something that haunts him from his own childhood. A product of the foster care system, he has a connection with Sebastian, an empathy with his situation. The narrative is masterfully split in alternate chapters between the modern day and Daniel's own childhood and his time with the woman who brought him up and ultimately betrayed him. Daniel's story unveils itself to the reader as the modern day tale progresses through to the court room, keeping the reader hanging on for the outcome both of Sebastian's case and Daniel's past history and delivering a double-barrelled emotionally charged closing to the book.