I don’t read an awful lot of crime or thrillers as you will know if you are a regular reader of the blog. However, I was intrigued by this one which was inspired by a real-life village for orphans in the west of Scotland. In fact, I’m pretty sure the building on the front cover is actually the old schoolhouse building from the village.
About the Book
There were good people in The Homes. But there were also some very, very bad ones…
A thousand unwanted children live in The Homes, a village of orphans in the Scottish Lowlands on the outskirts of Glasgow. Lesley was six before she learned that most children live with their parents. Now Lesley is twelve, and she and her best friend Jonesy live in Cottage 5, Jonesy the irrepressible spirit to Lesley’s quiet thoughtfulness.
Life is often cruel at The Homes, and suddenly it becomes much crueller. A child is found murdered. Then another. With the police unable to catch the killer, Lesley decides to take the matter into her own hands. But unwanted children are easy victims, and Lesley is in terrible danger…
Inspired by a true story, and introducing readers to the unforgettable voice of young orphan Lesley, The Homes is a moving and lyrical thriller, perfect for readers of Val McDermid, Chris Whitaker, Jane Casey and Denise Mina.
In The Homes, JB Mylet has introduced some unforgettable characters. It’s told from the point of view of young Lesley who has lived at The Homes as long as she can remember. Unlike some of the other children, she’s not actually an orphan but her mother couldn’t look after her. When tragedy strikes and some children are killed, Lesley is terrified that she might become a victim too. She’s a very bright girl and decides that she and her best friend Jonesy will track down the killer themselves, since she doesn’t think the police are doing a very good job.
Although this is a crime novel, it’s not the crime aspect of it that will stay with me but the stories of the children living in The Homes, the various reasons they came to be there and the way they were treated. Knowing that some of this is based on a true story makes it rather disturbing to read. Lesley is, of course, the stand-out character and the author has captured the voice of his young narrator brilliantly. I loved the close friendship between Lesley and Jonesy and the way they were always there to support each other.
With the story being told in short chapters, with a distinctive Scottish voice and in such a compelling way, I found this a quick read and a very moving one. It was quite heart-breaking to read about Lesley’s experiences and the harsh treatment meted out to the children. Thankfully, there were moments of light in Lesley’s life, not least in her friendship with Jonesy, her relationship with the facility’s psychologist Eadie and the visits from her grandmother.
The Homes is a most unusual crime book. Although it has several murders, there’s no graphic violence For me, it was most definitely more about the voices and experiences of the young residents of The Homes. It’s a moving mystery story which will have you thinking of the characters long after you’ve finished reading.
The Homes is published by Viper Books and available now in hardback,
ebook and audiobook. The paperback will follow early next year.
My thanks to Rosie at Viper Books for sending me a copy for review.