Book Review: Crimes Against My Brother

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Thank you to Random House Canada for allowing us the opportunity to read Crimes Against My Brother by David Richard Adams. Richards wrote the Giller Prize winning Mercy Among the Children, which is a proud part of my library, so I was highly anticipating this new one and was delighted that we would be able to read it for the Literary Hoarders.

Crimes Against My Brother had a strong premise, and one that fed my anticipation. Here is part of the synopsis for it:

 Howard, Evan and Ian are inseparable as boys–so much so that one night, abandoned in the forest by the careless adults around them, and raging against society and the uncaring gods others worship, they seal their undying brotherhood with a blood bond. But soon after, a horrific accident scars each of them in a different way, testing their bonds and leaving each with a debt to be paid. As adults, seeking to rise above debt and advance in life, each man decides upon a very different path–but over time, all three discover they are tied to each other in intricately tangled, sometimes violent, and surprising ways that none of them has been wise enough to foresee.

When starting on the opening pages, I quickly realized this was going to be a novel where time spent savouring the words would be required, as each word and each sentence held great weight and power to them. It required slow, patient reading. However, the “-that is, he wanted this”, “that is – she was going here”, “that is – he meant to say this”, style of writing grew tiresome for me after some time.

As the synopsis states, Howard, Evan and Ian are three inseparable boys with a tie that is made stronger when they seal it with their blood while they are waiting out a snowstorm. However, one man, Lonnie Sullivan, is intent on seeing their destruction and spends a great deal of time working to turn the boys against one another. To help in his manipulation, he uses Annette – the prettiest girl in town – to turn the boys against one another as well. Year after year and well into their adulthood these three continue to be manipulated into thinking one of the others has destroyed his future, his life, his love and his ability to succeed.

Unfortunately, my anticipation and expectation that this was going to be the great read, the great page burner I’ve been hoping for was simply not to be in Crimes Against My Brother. Stunning and sophisticated prose aside, I suffered extreme boredom with this story and the continued and repetitive story of rumour and perceived betrayal of these three friends became tedious to read. Howard, Evan and Ian’s story is narrated by a person that grew up with them and is now a university professor. All throughout this story the reader hears the story from this narrator’s perspective and how he uses the boy’s story to teach his class about boyhood bonds and how betrayal can unravel the strongest of friendships. However, and perhaps I fell asleep for this part, but this narrator is never once revealed! I continued to wait for the reveal, to find out just whom this person was, waiting for what I anticipated to be a surprising identification. It never happened? Why would that completely fall apart and be forgotten? So, sigh, once again I’m left without a much desired page-burner.  :-(

Literary Hoarders Penny rev