Now I’ve read the book I love the title even more – it sums up the plot and characters entirely; a little dark, somewhat mysterious, funny, disarming, and deceptively simple – or deceptively complicated (I’m still not sure which). This is a book that defies categorisation and laughs at genre, the main protagonists are two ten year old children and I would have loved it when I was in about that age, but would I have loved it more than I did now? Probably not because I think I would have missed too much, but I must find a young adult to try the book out on...
So we have these two children – a boy and a girl sent for the summer on a remote and beautiful Canadian island – but it’s a cursed community, its youth sacrificed on the battle fields of Europe and never replaced, which makes the islanders totally unprepared for youngsters like these who are more a destructive force of nature than anything else. (So pretty typical children really.) Slowly things settle down and then they get strange again when young Barnaby Gaunt’s uncle turns up. Uncle isn’t a very nice man and he has designs on Barnaby’s life (there’s quite a fortune at stake). For Christie (a very sensible young woman of highland extraction) the answer is clear – they have to kill uncle first, but how easy will that be?
Rohan O’Grady is a pen name for June Skinner who started writing novels in her 30’s whilst she bought up her children and kept house somewhere in West Vancouver. She must have been writing for her children, but she was clearly writing just as much for herself and the result is irresistible. There are some more novels out there and I’m tempted to track them down (though it’s almost certainly going to have to wait until the New Year now – and how much does being poor suck?) There’s something really unique about ‘Let’s Kill Uncle’ though if it were to remind me of anything or anyone it would be Shirley Jackson. However ‘Let’s Kill Uncle’ is a warmer more human book than anything I’ve read by Jackson. The landscape comes alive, and so does the situation – two children planning the perfect murder because they’re frightened for their own lives – two children who are aware of all the repercussions of their actions, and two children who have no-one to turn to despite being surrounded by well wishers.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough or really say how pleased I am it’s crossed my path. I really hope that the Bloomsbury group project continues and that they keep unearthing treasures like this one.