Stone Bruises by Simon Beckett #review

Somebody!’ I half-sob and then, more quietly, ‘Please.’ The words seem absorbed by the afternoon heat, lost amongst the trees. In their aftermath, the silence descends again. I know then that I’m not going anywhere…

* * *

Weaving strands of London and rural France, Stone Bruises tells the story of Sean (who has no surname, which I think just adds to the mystery of his past) who is on the run with nothing but a rucksack. Why is he in France? What is he running from? As a crime reader, my thoughts immediately turn to the darkest of dark. He’s killed someone, hasn’t he? Or has he… Sean’s escape plans are quickly thwarted, however, when he finds himself caught in a trap in the woods and with no way of freeing himself and no means of contacting anyone, things don’t look good… But then he wakes up in a barn, and there lies the first of the many twists and turns that the story takes.

Who is Mathilde? Why is she keeping him the loft of the barn, and why is the trapdoor locked? What happened to Chloe? And why is Arnaud such a pig?! What the hell is a sanglochon??

I can’t answer these questions without giving away the plot – but let’s just say that things are probably not what you think! My initial thoughts were a Misery style dark tale, but as the twists and turns are revealed, things become less horror-dark and more family-dark as Sean starts to work out what is going on in his current situation, as well as telling us what happened to lead him there.

You might get a few Thomas Harris style flashes at points, but overall this novel is something very different to that. The characters are all very believable and the setting was so nicely created it made me immediately feel like I was right there in the French countryside with Sean, wondering how the hell I was going to get out of this mess…

This is the first novel I’ve read by Simon Beckett, and down to the engaging mystery of the plot and the simple yet beautiful writing, I will definitely be seeking out another. Definitely give this a go if you’re after something a bit different.