What is this about?: This part is easy — a murder, and a young boy, Jasper, who has Synaesthesia and sees the world in colours. He also has face blindness, so as you can imagine that makes recognising anyone from his father to a murderer difficult.
What else is this about: Jasper. We learn of the difficulties he faces in this world, and how he copes.
Whatever happens, don’t tell anyone what you did to Bee Larkham…
Jasper is not ordinary. In fact, he would say he is extraordinary…
Synaesthesia paints the sounds of his world in a kaleidoscope of colours that no one else can see. But on Friday, he discovered a new colour – the colour of murder.
He’s sure something has happened to his neighbour, Bee Larkham, but no-one else seems to be taking it as seriously as they should be. The knife and the screams are all mixed up in his head and he’s scared that he can’t quite remember anything clearly.
But where is Bee? Why hasn’t she come home yet? Jasper must uncover the truth about that night – including his own role in what happened…
The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder relies solely on young Jasper — he is our narrator, unreliable in some ways for his reactions are coloured — no pun intended — by being autistic as well as having Synaesthesia.
The parakeets across the street from him are his anchor and his focus in world gone out of his control since his mother died. He’s moved from the home where his mum, dad and he lived together, and his father doesn’t understand him or his conditions. His mum did though, for she had Synaesthesia too.
When Bee Larkham moves in, she reminds him of his mother — or rather the colour of her voice does. But as the book progresses, the reality of who Bee is comes to light for readers, as it does for Jasper.
The only other adult he has contact with is his father, who doesn’t understand him at all. He is trying to grieve for his wife, and at times not always patient enough with Jasper. But, in the end, he will always be Jasper’s father, and nothing less fuels his actions.
I don’t know if there’s any middle ground with this book. In a 435-page book, a young 13-year-old’s voice, one who is trying to navigate a world that does not understand him, means this requires patience (for me at least). But I kept on reading because Jasper leads us to the truth in his way, and I wanted to see how Harris accomplished the mystery part of it.
It can get frustrating to have Jasper’s voice as the only narrator, but his innocence too is as captivating. Bee manipulates that to her own ends, but the truth of who Bee Larkham is, shows appearances aren’t everything.
Finding the truth of who killed Bee was illuminating because Jasper can only see colours of voices, but he trusts them, he trusts that and you have to as well as you follow him to the murderer. Harris threw a hell of a red herring along the way, which I totally believed until I didn’t.
The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder was nothing that I expected and I’m grateful to have read it. Jasper is undoubtedly one of the most unique characters around.