Rupture, or A Thousand Cuts in the US, is a first novel by Simon Lelic. Set in the sweltering heat of the city in summer what should be an open and shut case bears closer examination by a female inspector. Lucia is interested in why a fairly new History teacher at a secondary school which is about to be  a flagship Government success story has fired a gun at assembly killing several children and a teacher before turning the gun on himself.

The chapters alternate between Lucia’s experiences in the course of the investigation and the people she interviews giving their versions of events. As Lucia digs deeper she finds, that of course, there was more to it than meets the eye. Lucia continues to dig even when it means that she will be in trouble herself and she descends into old habits while acting like a dog with an old smelly bone. There’s little to be gained by holding on, but she can’t quite give up.

No doubt for artistic reasons Lelic doesn’t use quotation marks and his characters say “would of” and have other annoying tics. The English teacher in me wanted to bring out a big red pen – something I don’t even own – just to make a few changes here and there to aid understanding but of course it was done to add an air of authenticity to the chapters meant to be recordings of interviews. It is difficult for an author to successfully write in a number of character voices and to try and carry off about thirteen was ambitious. Was it over-ambitious? I’m not sure. 

The main thrust of the story is how institutions toss some people to the wolves in order for the institution to survive. 

Sadly, the miscreants rang all too true and I could have changed the central pupil’s character with a name – or two – of my own. There are of course stereotypes – like the unreconstructed PE teacher who wants to be one of the lads, or the police officer who is a disgrace to the badge – but stereotypes exist for a reason. They are out there in real life and easily identifiable to everyone who will read this book.

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