Monday, November 17, 2008

A Case of Wild Justice?

 

Yvonne Jerrold
Troubador Publishing (2008)
ISBN 9781906510718
Reviewed by Richard Blake for Reader Views (10/08)


Hannah Meadows finds herself in a traumatic dilemma. Her sister won't talk to her. Her grandson,  Billy, is in police custody and she has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. The neighborhood is overrun with intimidating young hoodlums, gangs of uncontrolled teenagers. Plagued recently with the nagging guilt of a well-kept secret of her past Hannah becomes restless and confused.
Hannah needs an action plan to rescue her family and save the community. A group of concerned seniors are fighting back against this crime and vandalism in a concerted effort to right the wrongs. Hannah joins the cause of the "silver bees."
 
Jerrold uses a unique technique for developing her plot through back flashes into the past that introduce the reader both to the incidents surrounding the characters and the personality of the characters. She allows the reader to see glimpses into their innermost feelings. This results in a kind of mystical insight into, and empathy for, an amazing cast of likeable characters.  Readers will recognize the friction of sibling rivalry and the differences in parental reactions in discipline philosophies and the resultant frustrations that, spoken and unspoken, can fester unresolved for years.
 
As the story unfolds, Hannah is confronted with the fact that her grandson Billy has an unexplainable, dark, evil fascination with inflicting pain on others. She saw this first when she observed Billy capturing insects, later small animals and, more recently, suspected him of being a gang leader spreading fear and terror among the elderly. Hannah describes it this way, "Behind his casual insouciance, behind his inscrutable smile, lay a dangerously antisocial intelligence unfettered by ties of human affection."
 
After several incidents of deaths of an elder victim and a young hoodlum, due to unexplained accidents, arson, and bombings, with accompanying suicide notes from the elderly victims, "the silver bees" issue a statement to the newspapers. "We are determined to fight back against the wave of crime and intimidation currently being directly against the elderly…" This statement leads to a newspaper report stating, "…the current bombing campaign is being masterminded…by our own frail elderly citizens."
 
Watching her family disintegrate with the news that Billy is being released from custody, Hannah is torn as she experiences the curse of old age and the knowledge that her illness could end her life at any time. Her thoughts turn to violence, to murder as self-defense, even though she believes that no one is beyond redemption.
 
The story is geographically set in a small English neighborhood but is universal in its appeal. Every preceding paragraph, page and chapter leads to the suspenseful build up of the final chapters. In this masterfully crafted, haunting novel, "A Case of Wild Justice?," Yvonne Jerrold has captured the plight of the aging citizen and the psychological warfare that often exists within the family circle.


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