Simon Lelic - Rupture (3 stars)

Simon Lelic - Rupture

(Picador)

Simon Lelic’s debut novel is certainly timely. His story about a massacre in a north London school would appear to symbolise our so-called ‘Broken Britain’. But the fact that the shooting of three students and a teacher during a morning assembly is carried out by a faculty member (and not a teenage ‘hoody’) suggests Lelic is aiming at something more specific than David Cameron’s scattergun damnation of the nation.

Unfolding as a police investigation of the crime, the narrative flits between detective Lucia May (reminiscent of Prime Suspect’s Jane Tennison) and various witnesses, pupils, teachers and other school staff. Although May’s superiors don’t want to hear it, what emerges is a picture of a formerly mild-mannered teacher who was himself a victim of the system rather than merely an evil psycho. All of which is very admirable, but Lelic’s otherwise compelling tale is somewhat let down by some first-person testimony that doesn’t quite convince.

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