Crusher by Niall Leonard

Rating 7.6/10
On one hand I really liked the book but on some other fronts…

To catch a killer, Finn Maguire may have to become one....

Everything changed the day Finn found his father in a pool of blood, bludgeoned to death. His dull, dreary life is turned upside down as he becomes the prime suspect. How can he clear his name and find out who hated his dad enough to kill him?

Facing danger at every turn, uncovering dark family secrets and braving the seedy London underworld, Finn is about to discover that only the people you trust can really hurt you....

Crusher, a debut novel written by Niall Leonard, was written in during NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month. With Crusher, Niall Leonard goes along a different path than the majority of Young Adult fiction in that Crusher is a crime-thriller book. I was eager to read this since it was for me the first in this genre and now, having finished the book, I am actually quite divided in my opinion. On one hand I really liked the book but on some other fronts… I will try to explain as best I can below.

Let me start with the main protagonist, Finn Maguire, who lives together with his father. But Finn has a troubled and rich past, even for a 17-year old boy. Flunked school, caught for dealing drugs and now working a dead-end job flipping burgers. Reading these things about Finn I formed a picture of how his attitude would be towards the world, and how this was shown in Crusher was neatly done. Being on some front pessimistic about several aspects of life, but on others being also being cheery. This latter part also plays into the past of Finn where he had a chance to turn his life around, which he did, and now is somehow trying to undo a lot of stuff that he did wrong, gaining trust and upholding high moral values for himself (and which, I think, he tries to project onto others as well). I was very happy to see that Finn was given a certain depth and complexity is his character that I could see unfolding as the story progressed showing above all a direct link to his mother.

I was thinking about how Finn came to be who he was in Crusher and looking back I think most of his views were because of his parents. Finn lives with is stepfather, he never knew his biological father, and his mother left him with his stepfather and left England for The United States. But I have to say that his stepfather's attitude isn’t quite helping Finn, being a bit “washed up” himself and also having no real future plans. I could see where Niall Leonard wanted the story to go but some of these aspects felt just a bit too much and made the coming together of the past and the present occurrences too distant.

As for the storyline itself, I did not know what to expect, this being my first YA crime book. Crusher revolves around the mystery murder of Finn’s stepfather, who get brutally murdered in his own home. I think it is natural for anyone reading a crime/thriller to try and look for your own clues in the storyline, to see who the murderer could, at least it is something I always do. Is it the social worker with a past? Her (ex)-husband? The mobsters McGovern? Prendergast? His mother? His mother's boyfriend? His biological father? There were so many options available! Now, do not get me wrong, but I thought it would actually be pretty easy to find early on who the murderer would be, with Crusher being aimed at a younger audience. I even took several notes on likely candidates. But up until the last few pages I was left totally in the dark and felt that I was chasing ghosts. I was more than pleased with how Niall Leonard broadened the storyline on several levels. Finn is taking his own active part in the investigation and he gets in over his head. He goes into his father's past and unravels a lead on which his father was working on in his new book. In unravelling this lead Finn travels to some of the darkest parts of London and finds that what he previously thought was totally off-the-mark…

Like I previously mentioned the storyline was carefully constructed from start to finish, and threw me of my assumptions more than a few times. However there were a few aspects of the book that just did not come together for me in the end, the first being how Finn reacted to his father's murder. He was cold as ice and did not show any sign of remorse. And then I was thinking, why on earth are you so determined to venture into the darks of criminal London to find your father's murderer if, in the first place, you were not that caring and tight with your stepfather to begin with? Another aspect that I felt was rushed into the storyline was the relation between Zoe and Finn. They have only previously met at Max Snax, and jumped into bed only second time they met. There was hardly a build-up of romance between them. Later I was thinking if this had something to do with Finn being abandoned by his mother and now seeking comfort in other women? I do no know if this is true or not but this romancing aspect did not add to much value to the book, and also this book is written for a younger audience so come on…

In summary Crusher is a good debut, it has a great writing style. Several aspects were greatly used in setting up the storyline of Crusher. Finn is a really complicated character, that on some levels shows naivety and on others determination. The plotline left me in the dark until the last chapter but upon revealing who the murderer was I must say it wasn't something that I expected but it was too sudden and felt out of place.

This Crusher book review was written by

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