I have to be honest and say that I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy this book, that it might be a bit too dark for me. Well, I don’t know that I can say I enjoyed it, but my goodness I could not put it down!
The central character and main narrator of the story is Raymond Orrey, a man convicted of the murder of his wife and being detained under the mental health act at a secure hospital. Except that it isn’t very secure as Orrey escapes from the hospital at the beginning of the novel and heads off to take his young son William from his adoptive parents, Orrey’s wife’s sister and husband. He knows that the family always goes to the Halloween Fair at Aldeburgh and sees the crowded area as the perfect opportunity to be able to snatch the little boy and make his escape through the crowds.
The author takes us right inside Orrey’s head and that is a very unpleasant, unsettling place to be. There is nothing likeable about his character at all and I read with dread of what he would do next. Clearly the man is mentally ill, as evidenced by his incarceration in the secure hospital, but he also appears very clever, is absolutely focused on being with his son and building up a relationship with him. Nothing is going to stand in his way and that includes various people he meets as he tries to keep out of the reach of the police. He justifies and almost ignores what he does in his quest to get William away from his adoptive family. It was distressing to read about William’s experience, especially in the chapters told from his point of view. William has type-1 diabetes and gets more and more ill throughout his ordeal as his father doesn’t know about his condition and thinks he is just tired.
Told over the course of 48 hours and in very short chapters, this book is the very definition of a page turner. It may be a bleak read as we follow the deranged Orrey but it is most definitely a compulsive read. The author takes his reader on a fast-paced journey with a real sense of urgency right to the last pages. It is perhaps a bit of an inconclusive ending but that worked well here, leaving the reader to make up their own mind how they think the story resolves.
My thanks to Diana Morgan at Ruth Killick Publicity for my review copy of this book. It is published by Contraband (an imprint of Saraband Books) and is available in hardback and ebook formats. You can order a copy online here: Sweet William
From the back of the book
“Extremely well written and very frightening”–Barbara Nadel.
Life and death played out over 48 hours. A father intent on being with his young son escapes from a secure psychiatric hospital, knowing he has just one chance for the two of them to start a new life together. Sweet William is a breathtakingly dark thriller that spans forty-eight hours in the life of a desperate father and a three-year-old child in peril. Brilliant and terrifying, this is a debut novel that will stay with its readers long after they finish turning the pages.
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