Despite its rather grim plotline - the story of a man who is haunted throughout his life by a vicious child-killer - this is a very good book which I enjoyed despite my initial suspicion.
The novel's narrator is a likable, multifaceted character, and the others characters are mainly very strong. I genuinely liked most of them, and yet simultaneously suspected all of them. It managed to keep me guessing as to the killer's identity right up until the last few pages - a rare feat for a book. RJ Ellory does a brilliant job of conjuring up an atmosphere of suspicion and fear, whilst setting it against the ordinary happenings of everyday life.
The writing is elegant and almost poetic in sections. However, at times I found it a little frustrating as it became bogged down in digressions or descriptions when I was desperate for it to get on with the plot. It also had a slowish start, although I did warm to it quite fast. As the story is narrated retrospectively it sometimes gave just a little too much hindsight, which did get annoying at times.
However, by the end of the book I was completely hooked and stayed up much later than I should have because I couldn't stop reading. It is gripping and compelling, and yet also manages to be thought provoking. This isn't a lightweight thriller - there is real depth to the characters and storytelling.
The subject matter (the murders of over 30 little girls) makes for uncomfortable reading at times, as you would expect, and the book is unflinching in describing the horror of these crimes. I found it deeply haunting, chilling and disquieting - the sort of book you lay awake thinking about.
Overall, a very powerful though somewhat upsetting book, which manages to combine a strong emotional element with a (mostly) page-turningly gripping plot.