Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Quiet Child by John Burley

First Sentence:  Michael McCray squinted into the low-hanging sun as he swung the liberty blue Mercury four-door into the Century Grocery parking log off Gas Point Road.
      
Danny and Sen McCray are 6- and 10-years-old respectively when they go to the market with their father, Michael.  There have always been rumors about Danny, who doesn’t talk, being the cause of sickness in the town and to his own mother.  When a man steals McCray’s car, with the boys inside, Sheriff Jim Kent ignores those who say the town may be better off with Danny and sets off to help find the boys.
      
What a wonderfully deceptive story.  There is an oppressive spirit to both the characters and the setting—“Outside, the sun rose further in the sky, but despite the windows and open doorway, little of the light seemed to penetrate the dim interior.  To Jim’s eye, there was no architectural reason for why this should be so, only that this was what he’d come to recognize as a waiting house: a homestead turned inward, sheltering its occupants from crisis or illness, attempting to protect them until the worse of it passed.”    
      
One doesn’t realize how much technology has impacted even police work until faced with trying to trace a call in the1950s.  Burley makes even that information interesting. 
      
Jim Kent, the retired plumber turned town sheriff, is such a good character with his determination to find the missing children.  One wouldn’t mind seeing him again.

One doesn't want to say too much for fear of giving the story away.  It is a story of the actions to which superstition and desperation can lead.  Know, however, that one's astonishment? ...dismay? grows with each page.
      
“The Quiet Child” is completely engrossing.  It is a disturbing but very good read.


THE QUIET CHILD (Psy Thriller-Michael McCray-Cottonwood, CA-1954) – VG
      Burley, John – Standalone
      William Morrow, 2017

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