The Carpenter by Matt Lennox immediately reminded me of another book that I recently read and wrote about – Caught by Lisa Moore.
The Carpenter is also set in the 1980s and features a likable, yet morally ambiguous protagonist, who has recently been released from prison. This time around newly released convict Leland King (paroled in this instance, not an escapee) negotiates his way back into society.
Lee returns to his hometown after serving a long prison sentence for a crime which, though obviously violent, is initially concealed to the reader. During his time in prison he learns carpentry, dries up, and appears to be resolved to help his dying mother and lead a quiet life. Lee has done his time and made an effort towards rehabilitation, however his decision to return to his hometown, while laudable in his effort to support his family, leaves him vulnerable to the past.
We also meet Stan Maitland, a retired police officer who was involved with Lee at the time of his crime. He has recently, despite being retired, found a young woman’s body in a car whose death, although others deem a suicide, he finds suspicious and he can’t help but to get involved. Stan knows the secrets of Lee’s past and it’s those secrets which will come once again to hurt Lee and the family with whom he is attempting to build a new relationship.
The suspense grows as the initially sympathetic
Leland appears to be falling back on old habits and hints about his past and long buried family secrets are revealed. I found this novel to be a bit slow at first, but soon the pace picked up and this turned into an engaging and suspenseful story with numerous complex characters.
Two other suspenseful novels which feature former convicts and family secrets:
The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill
“Wolf Hadda’s life has been a fairytale. From humble origins as a woodcutter’s son, he has risen to become a hugely successful entrepreneur, happily married to the girl of his dreams. But knock on the door one morning ends it all. Universally reviled, thrown into prison while protesting his innocence, abandoned by friends and family, Wolf retreats into silence. Seven years later prison psychiatrist Alva Ozigbo makes the breakthrough. Wolf begins to talk and under her guidance gets parole, returning to his rundown family home in rural Cumbria. But there’s a mysterious period in Wolf’s youth when he disappeared from home and was known to his employers as the Woodcutter. And now the Woodcutter is back, looking for the truth — and with the truth, revenge. Can Alva intervene before his pursuit of vengeance takes him to a place from which he can never come back . . . ?” publisher
A Fistful of Rain by Greg Rucka
“Mim Bracca is riding the fast lane straight off the end of the world. Now she’s coming home without a job, without a future, and without a prayer–and only one last chance to get her feet under her, or go down forever. But home has its own terrors, including a past Mim has done everything possible to leave behind. Now that past is coming back with the shocking speed and deadly intent of a sniper’s bullet, aimed to destroy her once and for all. When Mim suffers her first blackout, waking up dazed and bloodied, she’s certain she’s hit rock bottom. She’s wrong. She’s only just begun to fall. The photos are invasive, obscene, and all over the Internet for anyone to see. How they got there, where and when they were shot, and by whom, Mim has no idea. And before the investigation into the matter even begins, a brutal murder makes it clear that whatever Mim thinks her life has been up to now, she’s about to learn it’s all a lie. The kind of lie that will kill.” publisher