What is this about?: Paul and Mikey are on the run, or rather Paul seems to have convinced (or forced) Mikey to go on the run after his release from prison for a murder he committed when he was a young kid. This is an atmospheric examination of their relationship, and as the blurb on the book I have says: Paul, and why he should be the one to be feared.
What else is this about?: It’s a character examination of two brothers who are as different as night and day, but who are bound together – by a murder and by one brother’s machinations to keep the other under control
Blurb: At the heart of this tense and at times times darkly comic novel is the relationship between two brothers bound by a terrible crime. Paul and Mikey are on the run, apparently from the press surrounding their house after Mikey’s release from prison. His crime – child murder, committed when he was a boy. As they travel, they move from one disturbing scenario to the next, eventually involving themselves with a bizarre religious cult. The power between the brothers begins to shift, and we realise there is more to their history than Paul has allowed us to know
This is the blurb I have on the copy of this book:
Two brothers elude a press witchhunt by hiding out in the remote wilds of highland Scotland. One of them is a murderer. But it’s the other you have to watch out for.
This book revolves around Paul and Mikey’s relationship in the aftermath of the latter’s release from prison for a murder after 10 years. Mikey is young – he may be in his twenties, but his voice in this story is a young teen’s one, for me at least. Paul takes Mikey on the run in an effort to escape the media in the wake of his release, which hints at the severity of the crime Mikey is accused of.
From there, the book explores their road trip of sorts, and what they do get money, and a safe place to stay and their relationship.
It’s the last that’s at the heart of this book and it’s something that made me uncomfortable to read because Shand has managed to create a character in Paul, who on the surface seems normal enough, but as the book progresses, he is absolutely the one to be afraid of.
Mikey is his follower, the kind of kid who always wanted to hang out with his cooler brother who could do no wrong in his eyes, and still can do no wrong, even if he is in effect taking Mikey away from a normal life (of sorts, given his prison stay).
Paul’s evil is insidious, with Shand slowly revealing how disturbed he really is as the book progresses, and effectively getting under my skin as a result.
Soon enough, I had my suspicions about Paul and Mikey’s past, but the revelation when it comes in the book goes in an unexpected way which shifted my thinking about Paul – I’m not entirely sure what I think about it. It’s one of those endings that you have to sit with, and digest and figure out how you feel about it.