Review: Crusher by Niall Leonard

Posted September 17, 2012 by chooseyabooks in reviews / 2 Comments


I first heard about Crusher at the summer RHCP blogger brunch and was very excited. As well as really loving YA, I really enjoy crime and mysteries too so anything that combines the two is right up my street. We were told Leonard had a very famous wife, but at the time they couldn’t say who and he was later revealed to be none other than EL James’ husband. I was a bit dubious at this, I have to say, but on hearing about how Leonard has written for several successful TV shows, including Wire In The Blood, so I decided I should trust my initial instincts and give Crusher a go.

I’m glad I did.

Crusher tells the story of Finn who comes home to find his dad murdered and ends up the key suspect. A drop out and working in a fast food restaurant, Finn is on his own and needs to not only work out how he will pay the rent and survive after the death of his father, but prove his innocence too. Finn finds himself embroiled with a local gangster, after saving his son’s life, Finn is caught up in plots abound. However, who can he really trust and what is the truth about his father’s murder?

This is a book I would say is at the highest end of YA in terms of language and content and does not hold back from the brutal reality of the situation finds himself in. There are some details and scenes that even I found grisly, particularly around one character, but I would say this is normal for crime novels as a whole. The book’s twists are unexpected, and there are so many red herrings and times I was proved wrong from my initial expectation of where the plot was going, but I have to say the final twist didn’t quite work for me. While I hadn’t seen it coming it felt too left-field for the rest of the book in my opinion. That said, it’s a thrilling read and one that keeps you guessing throughout.

Despite these minor quibbles, Crusher was still an exciting read; filled with twists and dramatic moments, and is a book I read cover to cover quickly. Finn is a really interesting protagonist; as a teenager, he’s not quite as ruthless as some of the typical characters in crime novels. However, in his short life, Finn has been through a lot. He hates his job, he was kicked out of school and doesn’t superficially seem to have a promising future. I’d be very interested to see if Leonard plans to write any more about Finn in later novels.

Leonard touches on some serious topics within the crime genre; human trafficking, drugs and manipulation for example. However, the most interesting point of Crusher for me was the way in which father-child relations are explored. Both Finn and his later romantic interest, Zoe, have tempestuous relationships with their fathers and I found this one of the most compelling points of the novel. Finn’s difficult relationship with his screenwriter father, resentful of friends’ success and struggling to catch a break, was really interesting to read as Finn at points almost felt like the grown-up in the family.

Crime fans and those who want a gritty, thrilling read in their YA will find a lot to enjoy in Leonard’s debut, Crusher. Crusher is available now and published by Doubleday. I received a free proof copy from the publishers for my honest reviewing purposes.

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