Published by HarperCollins on May 3rd 2018
Whatever happens, don’t tell anyone what you did to Bee Larkham…
Jasper is not ordinary. In fact, he would say he is extraordinary…
Synaesthesia paints the sounds of his world in a kaleidoscope of colours that no one else can see. But on Friday, he discovered a new colour – the colour of murder.
He’s sure something has happened to his neighbour, Bee Larkham, but no-one else seems to be taking it as seriously as they should be. The knife and the screams are all mixed up in his head and he’s scared that he can’t quite remember anything clearly.
But where is Bee? Why hasn’t she come home yet? Jasper must uncover the truth about that night – including his own role in what happened…
The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder is a book that’s been recommended to me multiple times, pretty much always with a comparison to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (which I loved) so I figured it was time to finally pick it up. I listened to the audiobook – that’s how I’m doing a lot of my reading at the moment given my new commute! – and finished the 12 hours in 4 days. To put that into context, my commute is about 90 minutes a day, which would have only covered 6 hours: half the total listening time. That shows how much extra time I put in outside of commuting, which is a good indication of how addicted I was!
The story is simple enough: Jasper Whishart’s neighbour, Bee Larkham, is missing, and he’s convinced something bad has happened to her. It’s a reasonably simple mystery – there aren’t too many characters to keep track of – but as it’s Jasper who tries to figure out what happened, all our evidence comes from his point of view. His faceblindness makes it tricky, because you can never be quite sure who said or did what. While this isn’t actually the only book I’ve read with a synesthete (Mondays are Red by Nicola Morgan) it’s nevertheless a very unique take on a mystery. I enjoyed that unique spin, as I can feel like mysteries and thrillers feel a bit too similar at times. Jasper’s colour attributions, his autism and the way he reacted to events was undeniably interesting, and I found it hard not to feel for him. I enjoyed the plot twists and wanted to know what happened to Bee, as well as what would happen in the end once the truth came out.
While there were things I enjoyed about the book, there were some things I wasn’t so keen on. Jasper’s observations were repetitive at times, and often long-winded: there were times when we not only got a colour description (which might be five or six words on it’s own) but also an auditory description for one sound. I felt the book had a slightly weird feel to it, because there are some quite dark elements involved in the mystery, but at the same time Jasper’s voice felt very young, similar in tone to most 9-12 novels I’ve read. That’s not necessarily a problem, and I can see why Jasper’s voice was portrayed that way but it did feel a little jarring at times. Another thing I found frustrating was the time jumps – the book frequently jumps back in time without any real warning, and because of Jasper’s face blindness, it’s hard to get any context for when or where the next scene takes place. The book picks up pace fantastically towards the end but I just think it could have been a bit shorter, which would have stopped it feeling so repetitive.