Sunday, 25 September 2011

Review ~ Crippen by John Boyne

I was delighted to be given this book as my fourth read in the Transworld Book Group Reading Challenge 2011.

My rating 4 out of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 4 paws

The story opens in July 1910 with passengers boarding the SS Montrose in Antwerp bound for Canada. Amongst the passengers are a Mr John Robinson and his seventeen year old son Edmund, who together with a disparate group of fellow travellers are to be confined on board ship for the duration of the journey. This fictional account of the true story of the notorious Doctor Crippen gets off to a rather slow start, but then develops into a suspenseful and credible murder /mystery story. The depiction of the hypocrisy of the upper classes in the early part of the twentieth century is cleverly written, and the added snippets of Crippin’s early life serves to emphasise the complexity of his character, and highlights his emotional instability. There are several other background characters that add weight to the story, and allow a fascinating glimpse into the convolutions of a society where social class was paramount.

Overall, I thought Crippen was a really good read; it is very cleverly constructed as the slow pace accentuates the gradual exposure of Doctor Crippen, and eventually reveals the sordid details of this crime which gripped the imagination of the nation.

For me, the added enjoyment comes from John Boyne’s exceptionally good writing; he has a distinct talent for storytelling, and his ability to make the story come alive is typical of his style and flair. 

This is definitely a book I would recommend to my friends.

Transworld Book Group Reading Challenge 2011

This is my fourth and final book in this years' reading group challenge. I have thoroughly enjoyed the reading experience, and whilst one book was rather disappointing, it in no way detracts from the quality of books published by Transworld .

I am extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to review the work of some excellent contemporary novelists, and look forward to future challenges.


  1. I really liked this too and went off and bought his first book since. Still to read it but if I like it I will get the others :D


  2. Hi Lainy - I started off with The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - and then went on to read some of his others. I have recently reviewed his latest The Absolutist, which I thought was excellent.

    Happy Reading !!


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