The extraordinary novel, Always the Sun was my introduction to British author, Neil Cross, the author/creator of Luther. I’d been meaning to return to Cross for some time, and my second novel by this author was Captured–a huge disappointment as it turned out. The premise of Captured is simple and yet fraught with problems: middle-aged Kenny is diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and with just a few short weeks to live, he decides to make a list of people “he’d in some way let down. He’d decided to use the time he had left to put things right.” This is the sort of scenario many of us consider–just what would we do with a few weeks if we are given a death sentence. Kenny makes his list, a rather short one I should add with just 4 names on it, and then sets out to contact those on the list. Soon there’s just one person left, Callie Barton, a woman he knew years ago, but when he tries to track her down, he discovers that she disappeared years ago, and that her abusive husband was the main suspect in the case.
Kenny begins by breaking into Callie’s former home and gets a sense of the sort of man her husband is. Things go rapidly downhill from there…..
Captured is extremely violent, and it lacks all of the subtlety of Always the Sun. If I’d read Captured first, it would have been my last Cross novel for the violence alone, but there are also problems with plot credibility. Would a man with six weeks or less to live spend it tracking down a little girl he knew way back in his childhood? And would he spend most of those few weeks in a no-holds barred way to discover the truth? And then, really stretching, would there only be 4 people on the list? The small number seemed plot driven more than anything else and allowed a number of pages to rack up before Kenny got down to the real business of finding Callie. In answer to all those questions, there’s always the argument that loner Kenny might be crazy. After all, his father was, and then we know nothing about Kenny before we learn of his diagnosis. Sympathy for the terminal illness washes away any possibility, at least at first, that this might not be a very nice man…. So there are some physiological complexities here if you don’t mind wading through, violence, blood and the odd bit of torture to get to the end.
So a disappointing read. Anyone else read Neil Cross?