23 May 2019
My thanks to the publishers and Ben at Cameron PR for my copy of this book
An unconventional love story that will challenge your most entrenched ideas of right and wrong
Walter struggles to give her the affection and guidance she desperately needs, without succumbing to her budding sexuality. In the year before she enters high school, these two lonely souls will transform each other as Walter breaks out of his emotional shell and Amanda blossoms into adolescence.
Unusually, the story opens with an ending, which then takes us back in time so that we get to learn much more about Walter Mitchell, and the way his life played out before we get to the dramatic scenario which opens this unusual love story. I use the term 'love story' rather than romance as I think this book crosses the boundaries and makes you question the difference.
Amanda is the best friend of Walter's thirteen year old daughter Olivia. The girls' are the same age but that's where the similarities end. Olivia has everything her heart desires and yet, she still wants more. Her friend Amanda, is far more vulnerable, as she has been forced, by the indifference of her selfish mother, to fend, very much, for herself.
Throughout the story I was reminded, of course, of Nabokov's Lolita, there's the same sense of experimentation, and the urge, not to shock, but to challenge the perception of what is considered appropriate behaviour. Pulled by an attraction that defies convention, Walter is increasingly drawn towards Amanda and not in an entirely paternalistic way. There is no doubt that even though Walter's intentions are honorable, his emotional connection to Amanda crosses the divide between what's appropriate and what's not acceptable between an adult man and a prepubescent girl.
The author writes well and whilst I didn't entirely enjoy all of the story I commend the author for tackling a difficult subject and for writing a thought provoking and unusual story about a complex relationship between two sad and lonely individuals.
K.C. Maher grew up outside of Chicago and has been writing fiction all her adult life. Her fiction and journalism has appeared in US and UK magazines online and off. Now that her children are grown, she writes more than she sleeps. The Best of Crimes is her first published novel. K.C. Maher lives in New York.