The surface question of this book is "Who is killing these people?" but as a book of layers, readers who choose to dig down further find other questions, many of which will be uncomfortable. Like it's antipodean counterpart, Dust off the Bones, we are seeing an emergence in crime fiction of narrative which deeply engages with crime. Not just the crime that propels a reader to turn the page to find out who dun it. Rather crime that is rooted in great injustices, crimes of nations and states, crimes for which no one person can be jailed, so we can easily say justice is done and move on. Crimes which are so large, that they ripple throughout history, and on the level of time are still present, happening and, ongoing, before our very eyes.
This week Mairi sit's down with crime fiction author Amy Suiter-Clark to talk about the process of writing her debut Girl, 11, and many other things crime fiction, including why neither of them will ever light up a room.
Many writers, even those native to the Highlands can imbue their descriptions with a sense of twee kitsch and a paint by numbers version of what is a beautiful, but highly complex, part of the world. Writing the Highlands is easy, but writing the Highlands well, with a sensitivity to the land and it's deep history is a feat that only those with a unforced empathy can complete.
With the last chapters we look at how Esther's disaperance came to shape their future lives, and became woven into their emotional foundations of those involved. Genuinely, I wept, and who out of us would not weep when we faced with the great tragedy of all human lives, that even when the blissful moments of childhood are infrequent, it is a state we all yearn for, but will never be able to return to, exiled from it as we are by the knowing that we sought, and the knowing which is thrust upon us.
Ivy, is very much a woman of her time, and as culture is currently obsessed with rewriting every historical woman as a "badass," there is something refreshing in finding a woman who operates to actively find the answers she needs within her times restrictions rather than creating a fabulist narrative of the ease of societal change.
The narrative is deceptively simple, in many ways because to really see the story you have to consider it from so many points of view, consider that what was decidedly make believe to one character was decidedly real to the world in which another lives. That in many ways we are mainly people who just happen to intersect with each other for a short time. It is impossible to truly know how other people really see the world or ourselves. It is so often time that is the only thing that gives us real perspective.
The Baby Is Mine is an engaging, playful and modern take on the biblical tale Solomon's judgement.