I have been utterly immersed in The Best of Crimes by K.C. Maher for the best part of today, and never have I read a book where I’ve felt so conflicted. The main character, Walter Mitchell tells the story via first person narration, and his searing honesty is what makes this book both so incredibly compelling but also, at times very uncomfortable to read. It is pegged as an unconventional love story that will challenge perceptions, and it really does deliver, and then some!
The story begins in 2015, where Walter walks into a police station and insists that he be arrested and charged for kidnapping Amanda Jonette, a thirteen year old girl, who also happens to be his daughter’s best friend. The novel then hops back to 1999 and, through Walter’s eyes, the reader gets to know him and all the events which lead him to that police station on that day in 2015.
The developing relationship between Walter and Amanda has been morally challenging for me. It clearly states in the synopsis (and so I’m not giving anything away here!) that he doesn’t give into temptation, but it is clear throughout that sexual desire is present – for me, and I’m sure for many others, this element was a very uncomfortable read. But, their relationship is about so much more than that, and therein lies the conflict. I felt as if I should feel a certain way, but I didn’t – and that led to some serious thought on my part and I enjoy feeling challenged in that way.
I personally found Walter’s life, unconventional though it was, to be completely fascinating. His relationship with his wife, Sterling and his daughter, Olivia, I struggled with as certain elements of their family dynamic just didn’t ring true to me – although, because of Walter’s honesty, I was willing to believe him, which is a testament to the author’s skill in creating such a compelling main character.
As I am sat here writing this review, there are so many aspects of this book I’m desperate to write about (but can’t, otherwise I spoil it for others!), it really would be an amazing choice for book clubs. There are so many possibilities, so many layers to peel back and discuss – it is wonderfully thought-provoking. I am sure that readers will have very different experiences and thoughts when reading.
Although controversial, and at times uncomfortable, The Best of Crimes has completely captivated me with both its complexity and originality. I read that K.C. Maher’s next novel will re-visit these characters, and I, for one will be first in the queue to read!
Walter, a child prodigy who now works on Wall Street, considers himself a father figure to Amanda, his daughter’s best friend and only child of a neglectful single mother. But when he loses his job after the 2008 financial crisis and his materialistic wife leaves him, taking their daughter, his relationship with Amanda enters a precarious new stag
Walter struggles to give her the affection and guidance she needs, without succumbing to her budding sexuality. In the year before she enters high school, these two lonely souls will transform each other as Walter breaks out of his emotional shell, and Amanda blossoms into adolescence. In a world that has always failed to protect its most vulnerable, The Best of Crimes is a new narrative and an unconventional love story that will challenge your perception of right and wrong.
About the Author
K.C. Maher’s short fiction has appeared in literary journals including Ascent, Black Warrior Review, Confrontation, Cottonwood, Gargoyle, and The View From Here. Her work has reached short-list status in various contests, including the Iowa School of Letters Award and Drue Heinz Literature Prize. The is her debut novel. She is mother to two children and lives in New York City with her husband
Authors Website: kcmaherfiction.com
*I received a copy of The Best of Crimes from the publisher, however my participation in this blog tour is voluntary and this review forms my honest opinion.