There are crimes, and then there are crimes, which defy our imagination and cross the boundaries of humanity. This is especially the case when heinous crimes involve children, both with children as the victims and as the perpetrators.
Obviously one crime that pops immediately to the forefront, in Britain perhaps more so, is the murder of two-year old Jamie Bulger by two young boys aged ten and eleven. This case is actually used as an example in the story.
In this scenario a 12 year boy kills one child and almost kills another. Throughout the story the reader finds out his reasoning behind his actions, and why he felt compelled to do what he did or justified in his actions.
However the story is really more about what comes afterwards for those left behind in the aftermath of such a crime. What happens to the family members of the victims, the family members of the perpetrator and finally what happens to the person who committed the crime, especially if they were a child at the time of the incident.
Ultimately most judicial systems give sentences in an attempt to punish but also rehabilitate the criminal. They will eventually be released into society again. One can argue the pros, cons and the statistics when it comes to re-offenders, but that debate doesn’t belong here. Minors are not charged or tried as adults, and as such their sentences are often reduced and their records are sealed. So a twelve-year-old can kill someone and be out on the streets with a new identity by the age of twenty-one, with the pubic none the wiser.
One of the topics throughout the book is whether or not the perpetrator deserves to be hounded for the rest of his life, despite completing his time behind bars. Having to live life under a false identity and evade the constant stream of reporters looking for a reboot of a gruesome story.
Are there crimes that don’t deserve the forgiveness of others? I’m sure Jamie Bulger’s mother will always believe the two boys, who are now grown men, don’t deserve any such thing.
The Hidden Legacy moves from two periods in the past to the future and to the apparently unconnected Ellen, who has just found out she has inherited something of great value from a complete stranger. Little does she know that this is the beginning of the unravelling of decades of lies.
I couldn’t decide whether Eudora was subconsciously trying to manipulate the lives of those involved, perhaps because of a deep-rooted need for vengeance. Without Eudora and the inheritance there would be no dialogue with Ellen about the past. Or was Eudora really trying to make the best of a terrible situation?
It was a captivating read. In the end I was riveted by how Ellen would react and of course wondered what others or I would do in the same situation. Fact is these criminals are re-introduced into society. Do we judge them on who they were and what they did or on the life they lead after their release? Fascinating plot, which I am sure will cause a lot of debate.