The Treatment - Mo Hayder

Genre: Mystery/Crime/Thriller
Synopsis: Midsummer, and in an unassuming house on a quiet residential street on the edge of Brockwell Park in south London, a husband and wife are discovered. Badly dehydrated, they've been bound and beaten, the husband is close to death. But worse is to come: their young son is missing. When DI Jack Caffery of the Met's AMIT squad is called in to investigate, the similarities to events in his own past make it impossible for him to view this new crime with the necessary detachment. And as Jack digs deeper, as he attempts to hold his own life together in the face of ever more disturbing revelations about both the past and the present, the real nightmare begins...


Review: Christ on a bike. The book is tearing me in two. On the one hand, it is so utterly depraved, so creative in its sadism that I feel revulsion towards it. I went to check that other people have actually given it five stars before even acknowledging that, on the other hand, I absolutely loved it. Well... 'loved' might not be the right word. I was enthralled, in that 'this is horrendous but I can't look away' kind of way. Not the sort of book you'd call 'satisfying' but certainly one that will make an impact.

The second in the Jack Caffery series, Hayder has followed up a grisly gorefest in Birdman with this much more psychologically disturbing offering. Necessary spoiler alert - it revolves around paedophilia. This becomes apparent within the first chapter or two, so it's not a huge spoiler and I definitely think it's something people should be aware of before going into the story. Based on the harrowing yet compelling subplot running through Birdman, this feels like a natural direction for Caffery's journey to take, but I'm pretty horrified by just how... well, horrific, the events of this book are, both in the main plot and in the subplot which furthers Caffery's personal story.

A lot of the issues I had with Birdman - gratuitiously frequent descriptions of womens' clothing, Caffery magically coming to all the right conclusions, and unlikeable characters - have been rectified in The Treatment. I loved the secondary characters, Jack became less annoyingly omniscient and I have emerged from my reading with a mercifully limited knowledge of the characters' wardrobes. All in all, Hayder righted some wrongs while proving that she suffered some childhood trauma is not afraid to push boundaries and push them hard. I'm not entirely sure I found the big reveal all that credible, but Hayder's writing isn't really about the whodunnit, it's about the masochistic guilty pleasure of reading brilliantly-written nightmare fuel.

Rating: 5/5

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