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The Rag and Bone Shop Mass Market Paperback – May 13, 2003
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A 7-year-old girl has been battered to death, and there are no suspects, no leads. The police, under political pressure to make an arrest, bring in Trent, a cold, ambitious professional interrogator who prides himself on his ability to extract confessions. His victim is 12-year-old Jason--the last person to see the girl. We know that Jason is innocent, and halfway through the interrogation Trent realizes it, too, in "a blazing moment." But like a medieval torturer, his goal is confession, not truth, and so he stifles his impulses for good and proceeds with the job, with deeply ironic consequences.
The interrogation itself, which forms the centerpiece of the novel, is dazzling in its elegant thrust-and-parry, its subtle twists and turns, as Jason frantically tries to escape, like a mouse caged with a python. The point of view snaps back and forth so that we are intensely aware of the shifting emotions of both participants in the deadly game. And once again, Cormier has given us an ending that seems provocative and uncomfortable--until we remember that the center of his moral universe was always summed up by the words "if only." (Ages 12 and older) --Patty Campbell --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
This is classic Cormier -- childhood innocence broken on the rack of adult corruption (the town officials want to point the finger at Jason because they want SOMEONE to take the fall); sensitive and alert rendering of shifting moods and thoughts (Cormier's books have always been too interiorized to allow for good movie adaptations; I wouldn't want to see Hollywood attempt this one); the sense that evil often prevails, but that doesn't mean good shouldn't try anyway; and, most vividly, one of the most chilling final lines in all of Cormier. I sort of wish Cormier had left us with something a little more optimistic, but he was never particularly optimistic, just realistic. And his complex portrait of Trent -- as a man who has grown to hate what he does and who he is, but does it anyway because it's necessary and he happens to be skilled at it -- separates Cormier from many youth-flattering authors who indulge in easy kids=good, adults=bad equations. Cormier was about the messier arithmetic of the human soul. It's a shame he's not still out there crunching those numbers. He will be missed.
Interrogated by an expert, 12 yr. old Jason cannot avoid linking himself to the murdered 7 yr old. Does what he say cause him to become someone different? In the windowless interrogation room he perceives the double-edged sword of reality and its underlying currents of suspicion and need. This book is for mature readers because the seemingly simple story twists and turns into a stark fatal attraction. Are truth and justice found in the rag and bone shop? The suspense builds with each answer that Jason gives. Like writing an epitaph on a tombstone, author Robert Cormier lures the reader into formulating and answering a poignant question. And not until the end does he...reader, this is a master at work; you'll not want to close the cover of this powerful, slim book.
Telling the tale of Jason Dorrant, a middle-school youngster who is accused of killing his friends younger sister, Alicia Bartlett, Cormier drives the story along quickly and deftly. In a political (aren't they all?) manuever, local officials bring in Trent, an ace interrigator, who is known for eliciting confessions from even the most innocent suspects. Jason is brought into the local police station, and sequestered with Trent, who is undergoing some personal doubts about himself, the fairly recent death of his wife, and about the young man he is hired to make confess.
Cormier handles this taut, suspenseful story with guts and grit, drawing his characters with broad strokes, but making them feel like we've known them for some time.
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