There are three things you need to know about Jasper.
1. He sees the world completely differently.
2. He can’t recognise faces – not even his own.
3. He is the only witness to the murder of his neighbour, Bee Larkham.
But it’s hard to catch a murderer when you can’t recognise their face.
Jasper Wishart is a 13-year-old boy who doesn’t see the world like everyone else. He suffers from Synesthesa, a condition causing him to see colours when he hears sounds. As well as this he also has face blindness, he can’t recognise faces, sometimes his own father’s. He has a unique way of seeing the world and all the beautiful sounds he sees, he paints them in his bedroom.
Jasper is a stickler for routine and order, so when the laid-back whirlwind of a new neighbour Bee Larkam moves in across the road it turns his world upside down. Bee likes her music loud, likes parties that go on all hours and likes the parakeets nesting in her garden, she creates much stress for the quiet street. Jasper takes a liking to Bee, her colour os sky blue which is the closest anyone has been to his late mother’s colour, cobalt blue, however nice Bee makes herself to look, there is just something not quite right with her; especially when she uses Jasper’s obsession with her parakeets to take secretive letters to a boy in the school, that Bee has an odd and all be it illegal relationship with.
The novel flicks from past to present. The past is where you learn of Jasper and Bee Larkam’s friendship. The present is all about the “bad Friday” where Jasper is convinced he killed Bee Larkam and his father covered it up, he is frantic and basically having a melt-down thinking he will end up in prison.
The Colour of Bee Larkam’s Murder is a very modern take on the classic murder mystery genre, I did find it slow and confusing at times but when the plot all came together at the end I was glad I powered through and read it all. There were quite a few twists and turns along the way especially at the end as Jasper is an unreliable narrator with his conditions you just didn’t know what to believe.
I really love the idea and concept of the book, but I just felt it dragged on in the middle. The ending was really exciting, but the middle needed more build up or tension I felt it was a bit repetitive. I recently read and reviewed What Milo Saw by Virgina Macgregor (read review here) this book was also narrated by a child who had pinhole vision, so didn’t see the world the same way most people do, in the story Milo investigates a nursing home where his Gran had been shipped off he was convinced they were treating her badly. Again, as it was a child narrator you didn’t quite know what to believe, the reason I liked What Milo Saw more was the warmth the story and characters had, firstly I felt it was more believable making it more credible and I felt a connection to all of the characters. With The Colour of Bee Larkam’s Murder the characters annoyed me. Bee’s personality irritated me she was rude, used Jasper and I literally didn’t care if she was murdered or not, Jasper’s dad was just a wet drip, he really should have told Jasper all the details and a lot of things wouldn’t have got out of hand and as charming as Jasper as with his unusual ways his repetitiveness got on my nerves. I knew it was all part of his condition, but it got tiring to read.
I did like the uniqueness of this novel and it was a charming twist to a stuffy old murder mystery, for a debut novel Sarah J. Harris wrote beautifully however the scattered thoughts, confusion and repetition of Jasper and the storyline just didn’t’ do it for me I’m afraid. I look forward to what Sarah J. Harris comes up with in her next novel, but unfortunately, I won’t be reading this one again.
Have you read The Colour of Bee Larkam’s Murder? What were your thoughts and opinions on it? I would love to know so get in touch. Katie x