I started this novel "inquisitively", as one might say, and found it reasonably intriguing, if not exactly inspired - until around three-quarters of the way through, when I suddenly lost interest and found I didn't know what was going on. It became, literally, a page-turner. As others have mentioned, there is no substance to the relationship between the anti-hero, Geiger and the boy he protects, Ezra. Instead, we have a lot of explanation, in the form of flashbacks, as to why Geiger's own psychological problems are as they are (relationship with father, etc etc) By the way, there are one or two nasty graphic accounts of torture, so if you don't relish such things, the book is better avoided altogether. For a first novel, one really cannot complain; but I think I shall spend future valuable reading-time in better ways. I've just ordered 'The House on the Strand' from Amazon. I've never read it, so what am I doing reading Mark Allen Smith??