The Child Who

Published by Mantle in the UK and by Penguin in the US.

A quiet English town is left reeling when twelve-year-old Daniel Blake is discovered to have brutally murdered his schoolmate Felicity Forbes.

For provincial solicitor Leo Curtice, the case promises to be the most high profile – and morally challenging – of his career. But as he begins his defence Leo is unprepared for the impact the public fury surrounding Felicity’s death will have on his family – and his teenage daughter Ellie, above all.

While Leo struggles to get Daniel to open up, hoping to unearth the reasons for the boy’s terrible crime, the build-up of pressure on Leo’s family intensifies. As the case nears its climax, events will take their darkest turn. For Leo, nothing will ever be the same again . . .

Longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger 2012.

Longlisted for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger 2012.

Praise for The Child Who

‘Lelic was marked for stardom by his first two thrillers, Rupture and The Facility, and he confirms his place at the literary top table with this, his third . . . Told with compelling force, and at considerable pace, it reveals the frightening law of unintended consequences: even a good man can be destroyed by the best intentions.’ Daily Mail

‘Just finished The Child Who and thought it was fantastic. Absorbing, moving, hugely gripping.’ — Mark Billlingham, bestselling author of the Tom Thorne novels

‘Pacey, surprising and well written . . .The Child Who is a quietly excellent legal thriller which, unusually, does not rely on the tension of a jury’s approaching verdict. The reader knows that 12-year-old Daniel Blake has brutally murdered his fellow pupil Felicity Forbes – but not why.’ — The Times

‘Lelic’s third novel takes a hackneyed, supermarket-thriller theme – the “evil” child who kills – but approaches it so intelligently that suspicions of opportunism are instantly allayed . . . An agile, perceptive writer . . . Could this be Lelic’s breakthrough book? It deserves to be.’ — Guardian

‘One of the most intriguing things about Lelic’s intelligent novel is its steadfast refusal to take sides. Is Leo right to risk the love and respect of his own family in working out a personal agenda, however laudable? Lelic places such conclusions within the individual conscience of the reader. And that, as much as anything else, shows him as a writer to whom attention must be paid. — Independent

‘Zest, fresh perspective, insight and often quite beautiful writing, something you rarely see in populist fiction . . . An excellent psychological crime thriller from one of the genre’s rising stars.’ — (Four stars) Metro

‘Shades of the James Bulger case hover over Lelic’s third novel about a 12-year-old boy who becomes a public hate figure after killing . . . The less prurient writers who tackle this theme often adopt kid gloves only to strangle the life out of their work, but Lelic keeps his thriller exciting while handling the material sensitively.’ — (Four stars) Daily Telegraph

‘Lelic is understandably making a name for himself in the field. His prose is slick, urgent and polished, he has a great gift for bringing characters to life and his subject matter is always original and thought provoking. The Child Who is an intelligent, absorbing read that will certainly win him an army of new fans.’ — SJ Bolton, bestselling author of Sacrifice

‘Simon Lelic is developing a track record as a novelist who approaches his subject matter from interesting angles and explores thorny moral issue . . . In its complex portrait of the protagonist and his situation, The Child Who might just be Lelic’s most effective novel yet.’ — The Huffington Post

‘Gripping . . . A compelling, thought-provoking page-turner.’ — Psychologies magazine

‘By page three, Simon Lelic’s harrowing and haunting novel The Child Who has you utterly in its snares. A daring writer but also a deeply open-hearted one, he renders his flawed but sympathetic characters with the most tender of hands, heightening the tale’s suspense and drawing us even closer.’ — Megan Abbott, bestselling author of The End of Everything

‘A provincial solicitor finds his world shaken to the core when he has to defend a 12-year-old boy accused of murdering a young female schoolmate. Fascinating moral issues.’Daily Mirror

‘Lelic follows his acclaimed debut, A Thousand Cuts [Rupture], with an equally gripping psychological thriller . . . The plot unfolds in a way few readers will expect.’ Publishers Weekly (starred review)

‘Simon Lelic’s first two crime novels attracted much well-deserved praise. His third, The Child Who, is equally good . . . [A] stark, powerfully written novel . . . Lelic is a writer to watch.’ The Spectator

‘A ruthless, realistic novel of crime and punishment.’ — ‘Fiction Choice’, Saga Magazine

‘An edgy and unorthodox writer whose speciality is holding the reader in an unshakeable narrative grip while making us question the actions of the central characters . . . It is impossible to feel lukewarm about The Child Who and that as much as anything is a measure of this author’s uncomfortable skills.’Daily Express

‘Award-winning author Simon Lelic tells a deeply disturbing tale in The Child Who . . . An unsettling story with an unexpected ending. It evokes sympathy for those who should deserve it least, coldly questioning the legal processes and punishments which arguably only cause more harm to children who were already failed by society.’Image magazine

‘Simon Lelic doesn’t shy away from controversial issues . . . The results of his examination of the bigger sociological questions always make for great literature. He’s billed as a crime writer, but his books are bigger than that. And in his work he finds his stride as somebody who can truly make us examine ourselves, and place ourselves in the scenarios he creates so masterfully . . . The action, when it comes, zips along at a fair old lick, but it is the thought processes of the protagonists that engage, along with the oppressive atmosphere Lelic has got down to a fine art. Terrific stuff.’ — Irish Examiner

‘Who deserves your sympathy most: the 11-year-old victim, the 12-year-old who killed her or the lawyer handling the case? Jarring, disturbing and not for the emotionally squeamish. Lelic faces thorny issues of guilt and responsibility head on, and no one comes out unscathed.’ — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

‘Just when you think Lelic has said all he intends to say about society’s hysterical fear of violent children, he gives the subject one last, diabolical twist.’ — The New York Times

‘The much acclaimed, award-winning British writer Simon Lelic continues to impress with his second psychological thriller, The Child Who . . . Gripping.’ Houston Chronicle

‘With supreme élan, Simon Lelic has written a fast-paced novel that draws the reader in at once. His style is lean in that he writes in short sentences and keeps the narrative clean. His characters and dialogue are realistic and drawn with a fine brush. By the end of the book, readers are left to their own devices to consider what exactly would motivate a child to kill – and especially to kill another child. The Child Who may be a fast read, but it will certainly stretch readers’ awareness and engage their minds.’ — Book Reporter

‘A pervading sense of foreboding envelops this story from the very beginning . . . A gripping and suspenseful tale of people caught up and dragged down by a chain of events they cannot escape.’Suspense Magazine

From the blogs:

The Child Who is a powerful and heart-wrenching thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat and drag you, emotionally, into the thick of the plot. This is, without doubt, Lelic’s finest work to date. It is a showcase for a man who is the master of his art, a skilful plotter, and a writer who proves that, when it comes to language, spare can be beautiful. A stunning novel from one of the finest writers working today. Not to be missed.’ — Reader Dad

‘As a writer Lelic possesses a knack for taking his chosen topic and breaking it down to its core first by exposing the fragile and flawed human element of the story, and then proceeding to climb upward, building an intricately structured tale that highlights the ultimate truth of any given situation . . . Trust me. Pick this one up. You won’t be able to put it down.’ — (4.5 out of 5) Opinionless

‘This terse exploration of a moral dilemma will be sure to generate much discussion among readers . . . The Child Who will no doubt be a popular book club choice.’ — (5 out of 5) The Mystery Reader

‘A classy, compelling and thought-provoking thriller – utterly superb.’ Mean Streets

‘This is a gripping, compelling read, with the author bravely tackling head-on a subject which arouses incredibly strong feelings . . . A fascinating and dramatic novel, this is definitely one to make you think, and the author leaves you wanting more.’ — (4 out of 5) Little Reader Library

‘Simon Lelic’s third book, The Child Who, takes him back to the format that worked so successfully with his first novel, Rupture . . . It is a book that will have you gripped from the start . . . The short chapters and heavy dialog content ensure that this is a fast, gripping read. Simon Lelic is a writer to watch.’The Bookbag

‘Simon Lelic continues to impress with his latest novel The Child Who . . . This book is intelligent and gripping; tense and unpredictable. The non-linear structure of the narrative may feel a little odd at times, but stay with it and it all comes together to produce a thought provoking and challenging, and highly recommended read.’ — (8 out of 10) Cultural Tale of Two Cities

‘Read it. Think about it. Talk about it. You’ll be glad you did.’ Word Up, Nerd Up

‘The first thing to say is that the writing style is exceptional. I wish I had the vocabulary to do it justice! This is someone who has taken care over what he has written and the reader reaps the rewards . . . Almost a 5 star read for me.’ — (Four stars) Novel Heights

‘Lelic writes in a simple style to maintain a brisk pace but The Child Who is anything but a simple novel. It tackles complex and enduring questions that are routinely ignored by the talking heads who would rather sensationalize crime than help their audience understand it. It focuses on all the people whose lives are touched by crime, not just the immediate victims. This is a rich and rewarding novel.’ Tzer Island

‘The ending just about knocks you off your feet – unexpected and from out of nowhere. A quick read and another page burner. You HAVE to know what happens!’ — (Four stars) Literary Hoarders

A fast paced, gripping read . . . So compelling and easy to read that I read it in a couple of short sittings.’ — (Four stars) Farm Lane Books Blog

‘In The Child Who, Lelic once more shows his abilities to get under the skin of his subject and by approaching it from a different angle finding a new way of telling a story . . . Less of a legal drama, more a psycho-thriller, the moral dilemmas are disturbing which make this an uneasy yet compelling read, and confirm Lelic’s status as a literary star in the making.’ — (8.5 out of 10) Gaskella

‘Lelic is an audacious novelist and whilst it is a brave act for a writer to take on such an uncomfortable, horrific subject, fortunately it is one that Lelic has the talent to pull off . . . Lelic is in a class of his own and it’s hard to imagine anyone not being impressed by this novel.’Goldsboro Books