Linda Strachan has gone from knife crime to arson with her latest book, Don’t Judge Me. It’s short, but hard-hitting. While I was reading it, I woke up one night to find someone had been making toast at three in the morning. At least, I hoped someone had. I was feeling vulnerable, and there is nothing quite like the smell of something potentially burning, to scare you.
It starts with the arsonist and continues with someone throwing their baby out of a window. It’s everybody’s nightmare.
There is a group of four teenagers who witness the fire, as well as an independent witness. The police speak to all of them, several times, in order to work out who started the fire.
Part of the questioning reminds you of Murder on the Orient Express, in that you see everybody’s story and you feel that any one of them might have done it. Either because they seem rather crooked, or because it appears no one saw them when they said they did.
Is it one of them? Is it an Orient Express situation where lots of them did it? Or is it something else entirely? Despite short chapters letting the reader see the thoughts of the various characters, you just don’t know.
As usual, the adults are rather idiotic. But maybe that’s what we really are like. These teenagers feel let down by their parents and carers. Maybe someone was looking for attention?
This is an exciting read, and a way of examining different minds. Seeing how they think. Seeing how easy it is to turn to crime, when you least expect it.