Author: Kim Slater
On the Shelves: Fiction> Contemporary
Pulication Date: 5th June 2014
I found Jean’s friend dead in the river. His name was Colin Kirk. He was a homeless man, but he still wanted to live.
There’s been a murder, but the police don’t care. It was only a homeless old man after all.
Kieran cares. He’s made a promise, and when you say something out loud, that means you’re going to do it, for real. He’s going to find out what really happened. To Colin. And to his grandma, who just stopped coming round one day. It’s a good job Kieran’s a master of observation, and knows all the detective tricks of the trade.
But being a detective is difficult when you’re Kieran Woods. When you’re amazing at drawing but terrible at fitting in. And when there are dangerous secrets everywhere, not just outside, but under your own roof (Goodreads 2014)
Many thanks to Kim Slater, Netgalley and the publishers at Pan Macmillan for allowing me access to this book prior to publication in exchange for a review.
I spotted this book and ultimately jumped to the same conclusion many people appear to have jumped to “oh it’s like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime”, and in many ways it is- but in many ways, it also isn’t.
The story follows a young boy named Kieran, who isn’t “like the rest of the class” but we never really find out how, as it is told through Kieran’s own perspective and I don’t think he quite understands why he is different. Many people have guessed he has some sort of behavioural issues like ADHD or maybe Aspergers. I can’t say. I don’t like jumping to conclusions with mental health issues and I’m not going to pretend I understand how to even go about recognising symptoms of any mental health disorder. Kieran is a charming character though. He has a very logical mind set which reminds me a lot, for example, of Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory. He is fascinated with CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and is constantly being told he is morbid by his teachers, but he just doesn’t comprehend that there are some questions you do not ask due to social constraints.
Don’t let the cheerful and comic-like cover art fool you though, there are some seriously dark issues in this book. I just feel like they were not addressed fully and/or properly. Kieran lives with his mother, and her new husband and stepson- I found myself getting constantly frustrated with his mother for not standing up to the abusive stepfather and stepbrother, but again at the same time, I understand the large variety of reasons why many people in those situations may not leave the relationship.
My biggest issue with this book is that while the pacing was enjoyable and Kieran was a lovely character, it felt like a shallow book. Like, the author just skimmed the surface of every story and solved everything quickly, instead of really taking the time to develop the characters and the issues involved around it. Now normally I would say this is due to Kieran’s limited perspective and his “disorder” which limits the story from growing but…as someone who has read and enjoyed the Curious Incident, SMART did feel like a bit of a let down.
I would recommend this book and I did enjoy it, but at the same time it had some flaws which made it feel a little flat to me.