"I found Jean’s friend dead in the river. His name was Colin Kirk. He was a homeless man, but he still wanted to live."
There’s been a murder, but the police don’t care. It was only a homeless old man after all.
Kieran cares. He’s made a promise, and when you say something out loud, that means you’re going to do it, for real. He’s going to find out what really happened. To Colin. And to his grandma, who just stopped coming round one day. It’s a good job Kieran’s a master of observation, and knows all the detective tricks of the trade.
But being a detective is difficult when you’re Kieran Woods. When you’re amazing at drawing but terrible at fitting in. And when there are dangerous secrets everywhere, not just outside, but under your own roof. - Goodreads
Author: Kim Slater
Genre: Young adult-mystery-contemporary
Published: June 5th 2014
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Source: Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
My rating: 4 of 5 starsBuy from: The Book Depository
Before I actually review this book can I just say, ABSOLUTE COVER LOVE. WOW. When Macmillan contacted me, there wasn’t much info on the press release so I said yes mainly because I wanted this fabulous cover on my shelf. Here are a few pictures I took of my copy:
Okay back to the review. So the blurb did not give much away about this book apart from a teenager trying to solve the murder of a homeless man. I was expecting a run of the mill murder mystery with teens solving crimes (kind of like Secret Seven and Famous Five). Which is why, within minutes of starting to read I was surprised by the narrator. Kieran is an autistic boy in year nine who loves CSI and wants to be a journalist. He’s very observant and as you read on you discover that he is really bright as well. I love his narrative voice, it’s so simple and innocent that it gives everything he says a kind of poetic beauty and adds realism to this book. He is a brilliant artist and loves the art by L.S. Lowry - his descriptions of the feelings evoked from it are lovely. Kieran is a wonderful character and his first person narrative voices really makes this book unique and charming.
I was also pleasantly surprised at the depth into which this book went. Although at first from Kieran’s childish viewpoint you think that it will be a book for younger readers, you soon realise that Slater is using Kieran’s wonderfully innocent voice to comment on the heart-breaking abuse he and his Mum have to suffer daily. With heavy themes like animal abuse, domestic abuse, child abuse, prejudice, racism and bullying and with a narrator like Kieran this book is more than Kieran solving a murder - it has depth, poetic beauty and topical significance.
The ending is really wonderful. The final line links delightfully to the title as people finally realise that although Kieran has been repeatedly called insults like “retard” that he is actually incredibly smart and talented.
Overall, a beautifully heart-warming book with a surprising depth and a brilliant narrative voice. Highly recommend for an easy, quick read. Gorgeous.
What did you think of Smart if you’ve read it? Were you surprised? :)