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On Edge by Barbara Fister
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On Edge

by Barbara Fister

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As On Edge opens we meet Konstantin Slovo: a Chicago policeman who has temporarily left the city after his partner was shot on duty. Having no particular destination in mind he arrives in Brimsport, Maine only to discover, by being considered a suspect no less, that several children have been kidnapped and people are panicked. For many townsfolk the case revives memories of twenty years previously when accusations were made that a conspiracy of child abusers operated in the town though ultimately no convictions were recorded and the issue remains something that simmers uncertainly in the town’s collective consciousness. Due to his extensive experience investigating crimes against children (and probably because he’s just a wee bit obsessive) Slovo becomes involved with the hunt for the present-day kidnapper.

On one level this is a complex procedural tale about the search for whoever is taking the children of Brimsport. Local police, the FBI and Slovo use all their skills and knowledge but they’re up against someone who seems to be one step ahead of them at every point. Though this aspect of the story is interesting enough what I really liked were the murkier elements of the book. To me it seemed to be about events taking place in the grey area in-between the usually well-defined right and wrong of crime fiction. Is the former Police Chief turned child abuse campaigner right to be continuing his fight for justice for the victims of the earlier case or is he grandstanding on the basis of allegations he knows to be false? How far should the police go to gain a confession and will they know when they’ve gone too far? How much would it take to invoke a mob into vigilante justice and can you (should you?) stop them once you start? All these questions are asked in On Edge though you might still have to work the answers out for yourselves.

In addition the book has some deft characterisations. Slovo is multi-faceted and you’re never quite sure if he’s all he appears to be which makes him very interesting and he’s not surrounded by stereotypes either. I particularly like the cynical humour provided by his Doctor/drinking buddy Hari Chakravarty who pokes some gentle fun at both Slovo and the foreigner-wary town.

I won’t deny that sometimes I like my crime fiction to comfortably present a puzzle to solve with clearly right and wrong answers but hanging out in the shadows is more likely to have me staying up late to finish just one more chapter and pondering ‘what ifs’ long after the book is finished. On Edge> fell squarely into this second category. ( )
  bsquaredinoz | Mar 31, 2013 |
Konstantin Slovo knows his way through the dark. He knows what it’s like to live on the edge--of tragedy, of sanity, of humanity. A Chicago cop, Slovo’s own life had come violently apart with the shooting death of his partner. Here on the picture-perfect Maine coast, he thought he could outrun his past. But amid the crying of gulls, he has found something even worse.

Twenty years ago in Brimsport, Maine, police investigated a ring of sexual predators--and left behind a town seething in secrets and rage. Now children are disappearing from Brimsport--in ways that buckle the knees of hardened investigators...and plunge the town back into a nightmare. Now Slovo, a man who’s already seen too much, must peer into the darkness of a town torn apart by fear...to glimpse the secrets in the shadows--the glitter in a killer’s eyes.

Fister seems to be exploring several ideas in this, her debut novel. In particular some are connected with the nature of paedophilia: a commonly accepted one that those who are victims as children become predators in adult life; that it is relatively easy to get children to "confess" to being victims of adult predations where the acts exist only in the minds of the accusers; that there are others who feed off the hype that surrounds these public witch hunts.

ON EDGE is not a novel for the faint-hearted. There is some graphic description of what happened to the child victims, and also of what was done to Slovo by those who irrationally assumed he was the predator they were hunting.

The sense of hysteria that grips the small town of Brimsport when the fourth child disappears and the count down for his survival begins is particularly well done. I must also confess that I had the wrong person in mind. ( )
  smik | Aug 15, 2010 |
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Book description
A flip of a coin sends Konstantin Slovo, a Chicago cop who's had all he can take, eastbound on I-90 with no destination in mind. His impulsive flight ends in Brimsport, Maine, where gulls cry, waves wash against a rockbound coast - and the town's worst nightmare is coming true.

Almost twenty years ago, an investigation into allegations of child abuse spiraled out of control, ending without convictions - leaving the community scarred by suspicion, distrust, and anger. Slovo, all too experienced with crimes against children, arrives in Brimsport just as a search is on for a missing girl, the third child to be abducted and murdered in recent months. He's drawn into the race to stop it from happening again - and to end the horror before the town tears itself apart. Because whoever is behind these killings knows Brimsport's tortured past and is using its worst fears to push it over the edge.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0440237513, Mass Market Paperback)

Konstantin Slovo knows his way through the dark. He knows what it’s like to live on the edge--of tragedy, of sanity, of humanity. A Chicago cop, Slovo’s own life had come violently apart with the shooting death of his partner. Here on the picture-perfect Maine coast, he thought he could outrun his past. But amid the crying of gulls, he has found something even worse.

Twenty years ago in Brimsport, Maine, police investigated a ring of sexual predators--and left behind a town seething in secrets and rage. Now children are disappearing from Brimsport--in ways that buckle the knees of hardened investigators...and plunge the town back into a nightmare. Now Slovo, a man who’s already seen too much, must peer into the darkness of a town torn apart by fear...to glimpse the secrets in the shadows--the glitter in a killer’s eyes.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:59 -0400)

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