BOOK REVIEW: HEAD COUNT by RUSSELL CRUSE.
When fifteen- year-old Carly Elliot parts company with an Alp, David Benedict, the teacher in charge of the ski-party is suspended from his job pending charges of negligence and possibly even manslaughter.
His only ally is journalist Rebecca Daley and even she's trying to connect him to two teenage suicides.
Polizeikommissar Kurz thinks David may be a murderer, D.S. Sands thinks he's an idiot and the others down the nick reckon he's a paedophile but it won't be until he finds himself tied to a chair in a run-down church, an automatic pistol in his face and trying desperately, through broken teeth, to speak German with a Swiss accent that he'll begin to suspect he may be in over his head.
Could things get any worse? Of course they can; this is David Benedict we're talking about. Daley wants a story, Benedict wants his old life back; if either gets what they want, the other will be seriously disappointed. In the event, each of them is going to get a bloody sight more than they bargained for.
The following brief excerpt gives you a mere taste of what you can look forward to reading in Head Count. Author Russell Cruse takes you on a whirlwind ride of suspense, the tension never eases up in this wonderful story.
You are grabbed by the throat and the imagination, then hurled into a world of seemingly normal folk.
“Her vision was still blurred as she noticed a white-clad figure bending over her, hands clearly outstretched in a gesture of assistance. She continued her conversation, even as she took the Samaritan’s right hand in her left. She twisted her body slightly and the other hand grabbed her right wrist, jerking the mobile from her ear and lifting her easily to her feet.
‘Hey!’ she managed before she tumbled once more, this time onto her back. Winded and unable to speak, her hands were jerked behind her head and she felt herself being dragged through the powder. Within only a second or two, the speed of movement was so great that there was no possibility of her regaining control. When one of her skis broke from its binding, her foot scrabbled beneath her, trying desperately - fruitlessly - to combat the increasing momentum. She was spun around and the hands on her wrists tightened their grip - but only for a moment. First one and then the other released her and, spinning wildly, she caught sight of one of those little red trains she had seen in the brochures, looking absurdly tiny in the valley below. With a growing sense of bewilderment, morphing into terror, the girl realised that there was no longer soft snow beneath her. There was no longer anything beneath her save granite moraine and a gulf of a hundred and fifty metres of biting alpine air. “
Just as you the reader begin to relax and enjoy the subtle humor and the Authors clever use of dialogue to take swipes at the established and not always perfect worlds of Education, Publishing, and Policing you are hurtled full throttle into the murky world of Teen angst and what appear to be unrelated suicides.
The characterizations are well rounded by this Author...inviting you to care about the main players.
Meet David Benedict....A teacher 12 months out from a messy and unexpected divorce, no super hero this, David is a guy who fits into his world, not always comfortably but with his integrity in tact. He is dropped headlong into situations evolving around him, his own reticence making him appear guilty, when he is not. Or is he? The clever writing has the reader lapsing into the security of thinking ‘Ah, so you did do it.” Only to have the comfort ripped away by another plot twist.
It takes some damned fine writing to weave a cast of characters such as these.
Meet Rebecca Daley...the journalist that struggles with her conscience daily even as she allows herself to be drawn into the necessary embellishments that make newspaper headlines, it is her character that shines for me, smart mouthed, fallible, quirky and clever. She will not let go of the idea that something doesn’t gell with what is happening in the town. Her journalistic instincts pushing her to dig further.
Author Russell Cruse doesn’t allow you to become complacent, with beautifully conjured scenes he introduces the peripheral characters, Mr. Singh the affable and likeable newsagent who has a wise way of viewing the world.
Aunt Joan, wonderfully drawn and pivotal to the complexity of the story.
This author doesn’t deal in cliche’s. These folks are very human, fallible and necessary to the overall appeal of this book.
Clever clues planted early will eventually lead you to a shattering conclusion, as well written as it is unexpected.
I have no desire to spoil this marvellous read for any of you, so I will say no more...other than READ it...it will entertain and inform you, and in the end you will give a satisfied “Ahhh..I never saw that coming.”