Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Color of Bee Larkham's Murder by Sarah J. Harris

This was one of the most unusual mysteries I've read, and a definite stand out in my reading list this year. 

The Color of Bee Larkham's Murder is centered around Jasper Wishart, a thirteen year old  autistic boy who also has synesthesia: he sees sounds--voices, birds chirping, cars, you name it--as colors. Each sound and person has their own particular color. Jasper's world is an amazing rainbow of never ending colors, and the only way he can cope is by painting what he sees. His big issue is his inability to recognize and remember faces-this is where remembering the color of a voice helps him recognize people. His mother is dead, and he lives with his father, who struggles to understand his complex child, and navigate raising a special needs son on his own. 

Jasper believe's he's murdered the next door neighbor, Bee Larkham, and that his Dad is involved. The police have been looking for Bee, and she never answers her door. Jasper's beloved parakeets, who like to stop at the feeders in Bee's yard, are not coming around much since Jasper has run out of bird seed to feed them. He spends hours with his binoculars watching the birds, making notes. He also has watched Bee and the people coming to her house when she plays very loud music late into the night. Their friendship evolves into something dangerous for Jasper, until the night he believes he stabs her in her kitchen. His father has cautioned Jasper not to say anything--to stick to the story they've rehearsed, but Jasper is ready to burst and wants to confess.

This was really a great thriller, as you slowly unravel Jasper's tangled thoughts and colorful memories of the days leading up to Bee's death. Everything--and I mean everything--is awash in so many vivid colors it is hard to imagine living everyday with this gift. Author Sarah Harris does an amazing job describing just what difficulties Jasper encounters trying to live his life in a world where no one seems to understand what he sees or feels. Jasper copes by routines, counting, painting, and sometimes, screaming and vomiting out his feelings. He's so darn smart, but no one sees that; they just see he's different. His grief over losing his mother, and his feeling that his father doesn't love him both play a part in his guilt over Bee's death. Can you imagine only being able to remember people by the color of their voice? What if the color changed?

So the questions are: did Jasper kill Bee? Is she really dead? Will we ever know what happened? Yes. Yes you will. And it's pretty darn good, too. Twists galore!

Rating: 5/6 for a thriller told through the eyes of a young boy gifted with synesthesia. His world makes the mystery that much more interesting, and difficult to tell who did what and when. Do you trust what Jasper sees, or is there more? A pretty good plot, and just when you think you've got all the answers, more comes out of left field. You will need to slow your pace on this one, as reading what happens from Jasper's point of view requires patience and attention. 

Available in hardcover, audio, and ebook. 

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