I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Colour of Bee Larkham's Murder by Sarah J. Harris
Published by HarperCollins on 3rd May 2018
Genres: Mystery, Contemporary
Whatever happens, don’t tell anyone what you did to Bee Larkham…
Jasper is not ordinary. In fact, he would say he is extraordinary…
Synaesthesia paints the sounds of his world in a kaleidoscope of colours that no one else can see. But on Friday, he discovered a new colour – the colour of murder.
He’s sure something has happened to his neighbour, Bee Larkham, but no-one else seems to be taking it as seriously as they should be. The knife and the screams are all mixed up in his head and he’s scared that he can’t quite remember anything clearly.
But where is Bee? Why hasn’t she come home yet? Jasper must uncover the truth about that night – including his own role in what happened…
Thirteen-year-old Jasper lives with his ex-Royal Marine father. His mother died several years ago and he misses her. Jasper has synaesthesia. Rather than hearing sounds, Jasper sees them as colour. Every sound has its own colour, every voice its own colour palette. His mother understood this – she had synaesthesia too.
Jasper also experiences prosopagnosia, meaning that he can’t recognise faces, even his father’s. He has developed techniques to help him, the colour of people’s voices, the clothes they wear, accessories they have etc. His Dad helps him by wearing his “uniform” – certain colours that Jasper recognises, as well as calling him “son” and speaking in his ochre tone.
Jasper loves art and records the colours of the world in his paintings. Most people can’t appreciate them, but for Jasper they tell the stories of his life.
When a new neighbour, Bee Larkham, comes to the street he befriends her (her voice is sky blue, not quite the cobalt blue of his mother’s) and becomes obsessed with the parakeets in her garden, and the colours they make in his world.
When Jasper becomes convinced that Bee Larkham has been murdered, he becomes increasingly frustrated that people aren’t taking him seriously.
Told from Jasper’s perspective, we get a fascinating look into how he perceives the world. He doesn’t like change, sticks to routine, takes things literally and, consequently, misunderstands those around him. While not actually saying that Jasper is autistic, it is implied in the pages of this book.
We are taken along with Jasper as he tries to piece together what happened to Bee Larkham, all the while being desperate to protect his new friends, the parakeets.
This is an interesting read, that I certainly found educational. Personally, I wasn’t overly familiar with the conditions in this book prior to reading, so it opened my eyes.
I enjoyed the writing and the description of colours that define Jasper’s world. Also, the way we see the truth behind much of Jasper’s naive observations.
I did find it somewhat repetitive at times, but I guess that’s the point – to capture Jasper’s character.
Although this book is told from the eyes of a teenager, and is being likened by many to The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time, I feel it’s important to note that this isn’t a book for children. There are some issues in it that aren’t suitable for a younger audience.
All in all, I enjoyed this novel. I really liked Jasper and enjoyed seeing the world from his perspective, all the while trying to uncover some mysteries for myself.