EXCERPT: On her bedside table, the clock clicks forward another minute. Each tiny hair on her arm rises until her skin is stippled with goosebumps.
Even now, that combination of digits has the power to root her in place.
Twenty-one years ago, in another bedroom and another life, a different clock stopped forever at precisely the same time, a web of hairline cracks across its face.
(She) never speaks about that night. The past is put away now. It will not define her. She tries her best not to think about it, but every now and then it shoves its way in, ugly and unwelcome. The devil’s clock, her mother called it, those hollow hours before dawn when the darkness is full of horrors and sleep will not come.
ABOUT ‘WHEN I WAS TEN’: Everyone remembered Sara and Shannon Carter, the little blonde haired sisters. Their Dad was the local GP and they lived in the beautiful house on the hill. Their best friend, Brinley Booth, lived next door. They would do anything for each other but everything shifted on that fateful day when Dr Richard Carter and his wife Pamela were stabbed fourteen times with a pair of scissors in what has become the most talked about double murder of the modern age.
The girls were aged ten and twelve at the time. One, nicknamed the Angel of Death, spent eight years in a children’s secure unit accused of the brutal killings. The other lived in foster care out of the limelight and prying questions. Now, on the anniversary of the trial, a documentary team has tracked down one of the sisters, persuading her to speak about the events of that night for the first time.
Her explosive interview sparks national headlines and Brinley Booth, now a journalist, is tasked with covering the news story which brings to light fresh evidence and triggers a chain of events which will have devastating consequences.
MY THOUGHTS: Fiona Cummins does this to me every time. No matter how prepared I think I am, I end up breath held, heart in my mouth, my whole body tensed and poised to take flight.
When I Was Ten is not a comfortable, nor a comforting read. But it was one that I couldn’t put down, or stop thinking about. Nature vs Nurture, and what goes on behind closed doors …. this book is like Pandora’s box. You open the cover and there are things contained within that will forever be on your mind. The subject matter is very dark – parricide, and child abuse to start with. As well as the more mundane and ordinary topics of loss, grief, infidelity, grooming, secrets, lies, betrayals, manipulation and . . . . well, you name it, and Cummins has it covered. But it works – brilliantly.
The characters are well crafted and believable, not to mention interesting. Very interesting.
When I Was Ten also examines the powerful influence of social media and the press, and the ways in which the users of social media can and do flout the law.
There is a lot of food for thought in this novel. But it’s not going to demand that you acknowledge it. If you are simply looking for a read that will leave your heart pounding – this is it. The rest is window dressing. Chilling and thrilling.
I: @fionacumminsauthor @panmacmillan
THE AUTHOR: Fiona Cummins is an award-winning former Daily Mirror showbusiness journalist and a graduate of the Faber Academy Writing A Novel course. She lives in Essex with her family.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Pan Macmillan via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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