Monday, July 03, 2006

The Rag and Bone Shop, by Robert Cormier, 2001

12-year old Jason Dorrant is the last known person to have seen 7-year old Alicia Bartlett alive. Tensions run high in their Central Massachusetts town; a killer is loose, and a senator demands answers. Prosecuters summon Trent, an interrogational specialist famous for extracting confessions, and they stage a ruse to lure Jason into Trent's confidence. Tense, psychologically acute and incisive, skillfully paced and woven, as Cormier's novels are, though I question the believability and hopelessness of its ambiguous ending. An excellent illustration of the abuses possible in an unscrupulous criminal justice system. Still, for me, a dark and unpleasant read, one which, as the Yeats poem from which it gains its title suggests, pulls readers down into "the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart."

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