Little Boy Lost
by T.M. Wright
Published by Uninvited Books, 2011.
Starting with a fairly simple premise, that of the titular missing boy, it would be easy to dismiss this book as just another generic thriller but read on and you will find yourself immersed in a much more important, much more enjoyable and much more interesting book.
To say that CJ Gale has had an interesting life would be the understatement of the decade, this is a boy who’s mother was murdered, who’s stepmother disappeared and now he has just witnessed the disappearance of his brother Aaron. Of course mention of missing children would invoke images of abductions, predatory pedophiles etc but this book is not about that at all. Aaron has simply disappeared, vanished into thin air and with the police pointing the finger of suspicion at CJ’s father Miles and with psychologists trying to unravel the detail from CJ’s photographic memory the book unfolds brilliantly into an ever expanding mystery.
The pacing is handled beautifully as multiple points of view and varying timelines are woven together to gradually build a picture of what happened to Aaron as well as providing interesting background to the previous difficulties CJ has had to deal with. The character of CJ is worthy of attention, his photographic memory details scenes and events but his emotional immaturity can’t always interpret these things. It’s a clever technique to use a childish innocence to detail many of the more graphic scenes and it really draws the reader into CJ’s fairly bizarre life.
The resolution to the mystery does rely on a fairly well used trope, the Indian burial ground as seen in Pet Semetary, The Shining and the Evil Dead among others but this is almost secondary to the characters and their interactions. This is a book which uses the situation to explore the characters, their relationships, the whole nature of families. While the plot keeps things moving at a fair old rate, it’s the characters which really bring the book alive. In particular CJ, who one can’t help feeling sorry for as he seems to be thrust from crisis to crisis, but all the characters, even though the majority are flawed, are interesting.
In short T M Wright has taken a couple of fairly well used horror themes and used them as background to create a thrilling, entertaining and very clever study of the human character. I would suggest this is perfect fodder for Hollywood but then there would be a risk of dumbing down the characters to go for the more basic thriller plot and that would just end up as yet another generic thriller. Instead you should just read and enjoy this book as testament to the work of a great writer and wonderful storyteller.