- Publisher: Doubleday Children's Books
- Format: Hardback | 336 pages
- Dimensions: 162mm x 240mm x 31mm | 571g
- Publication date: 13 September 2012
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0857532081
- ISBN 13: 9780857532084
- Sales rank: 791,835
The day Finn Maguire discovers his father bludgeoned to death in a pool of blood, his dreary life is turned upside down. Prime suspect in the murder, Finn must race against time to clear his name and find out who hated his dad enough to kill him. Trawling the sordid, brutal London underworld for answers, Finn exposes dark family secrets and faces danger at every turn. But he's about to learn that it's the people you trust who can hit you the hardest..."'A fast-paced thriller with real heart' Simon Kernick
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Niall Leonard is a successful TV screenwriter with a long list of credits including international hits such as Hornblower, Wire In The Blood and Monarch of the Glen. Niall grew up in Newry, Northern Ireland and now lives in West London with his wife and their two teenage sons. He studied English at the University of York and trained as a screenwriter and director at the UK National Film and Television School. Niall's wife recently won fame as a novelist in her own right when as EL James she created the publishing phenomenon Fifty Shades Trilogy. It was James who challenged Niall to write a book. So last November he took part in the 2011 NaNoWriMo novel writing event in which writers create a book in a month, and thus his debut YA thriller Crusher was born. Niall is currently writing the sequel to Crusher.
By Daphne (Winged Reviews) 15 Oct 2012
Like everyone else, I was intrigued by this NaNoWriMo project written by the husband of the author, E.L. James (you may have heard of her). Crusher is a tight crime novel set in West London, which follows 17 year-old Finn Maguire as he tries to discover the reason behind his father's murder. I definitely enjoyed this debut more than I did the Fifty Shades books, although I'm not sure how reliable that benchmark is.
You can sense Leonard's screenwriting background throughout the book. The descriptions of the settings and people were really detailed and well-imagined, but there was a certain complexity lacking with the dialogue (and indeed the characters). Despite that I was utterly engrossed in it. The suspense just pulled me in-I was nervous for Finn and it kept me wanting to read more.
Finn is the reason I enjoyed the book. He's interesting-instead of the genius detective or well-connected journalist you usually get as a crime protagonist, he's a dyslexic teenage drop-out, living in squalor and working a dead-end job at a fast food restaurant. He has no natural talent for solving mysteries and barrels into situations without much thought. He's scrappy and determined to do what's right, even though the universe (i.e. the police) seem to be conspiring against him. He also seemed emotionally disconnected, but to me it was a self-preservation instinct, considering what his life has been like so far. I was drawn to Finn and cared about what happened to him, and when he did show emotion, it gave the book real heart.
Most of the other characters are like a checklist of crime fiction: mafia boss, bad girl, know-it-all detective, even evil henchmen. We didn't really get into their heads, which again I think is a symptom of the screenwriting-they were easily digestible but lacked true depth. They mostly served a plot purpose, mainly as red herrings. In a weird way the book benefited from it because Finn, as the main character, was the only one I really connected with as a reader and I liked him.
The plot was a little thin in places, but I enjoyed the story and I'm pleasantly suprised by variety of issues Leonard tackles. I liked all the plot twists and was surprised by the ending, so as a crime novel it worked for me. If you're looking for an entertaining read, then this is the book for you.
Thank you to Random House for providing a copy of the book for review.
"One of my favourite authors is Simon Kernick whose books I can devour in a single sitting. I would put the amazing Niall Leonard in the same category because CRUSHER was just as gripping and pulse-pounding and gave me sweaty palms from start to finish... If you enjoy crime novels then you'll love CRUSHER, which is one of the best young adult novels within this genre I've ever read." A Dream of Books blog "I was addicted to this from the first chapter... The storyline is compelling, peppered with so many twists and turns that you will question everything, and has an amazingly explosive ending that you will not be expecting. CRUSHER is a fabulous debut from Niall Leonard that is definitely not to be missed!" FictionFascination blog "I thoroughly enjoyed this young adult debut thriller by Niall Leonard... Finn Maguire is an extremely well-drawn and empathetic character." Raven Crime Reads blog "Finn is beautifully observed - a teenage boy in a world of trouble who is brave and persistent but who also inhabits a taciturn emotional landscape that readers will engage with... There are some fantastic action scenes, including a truly great escape and a visceral fight... The plot is cleverly worked-through with all sorts of twists and turns and paced for breathlessness and page-turning. CRUSHER has all the ingredients of a great YA thriller - accessibility, character, plot, action, pacing." The Bookbag "This thriller travels at a gripping pace" Publishers Weekly
Finn is beautifully observed - a teenage boy in a world of trouble who is brave and persistent but who also inhabits a taciturn emotional landscape that readers will engage with... There are some fantastic action scenes, including a truly great escape and a visceral fight... The plot is cleverly worked-through with all sorts of twists and turns and paced for breathlessness and page-turning. CRUSHER has all the ingredients of a great YA thriller - accessibility, character, plot, action, pacing.
Back cover copy
When he looked at me again his cold smile had cracked, like ice over a deep, freezing black torrent. 'I need to know,' I said. 'Who sent that guy to kill my dad, and me?'
The day Finn Maguire discovers his dad bludgeoned to death in a pool of blood, his dreary life is turned upside down. Prime suspect in his father's murder, Finn must race against time to clear his name and find out who hated his dad enough to kill him. Scouring the sordid London underworld for answers, exposing dark family secrets and facing danger at every turn, Finn is about to learn that it's the people you trust who can hit you the hardest... This year's most talked-about debut thriller.