…Martin John, by Anakana Schofield.
First a note on this year’s judging. I sampled all five short list titles but my medical condition meant I finished none and did not take part in the balloting. Again this year, each juror was given 100 points to disperse and here were the results:
Kim — Archibald 40, Schofield 35, Cusk 10, O’Neill 9, Alexis 6
Alison — Schofield 24, Alexis 20, Cusk 20, Archibald 19, O’Neill 17
Trevor — O’Neill 30, Schofield 25, Cusk 20, Archibald 15, Alexis 10
Totals: Schofield 84, Archibald 74, O’Neill 56 , Cusk 50, Alexis 36
My observation would be that it was an evenly matched bunch, with no one title rising above the others. We opted to go with the Schofield because both Trevor and Kim said they were happy with it as a choice.
You can find Kim’s full review here — here’s an excerpt that I think captures her thoughts:
If I’m making the book sound a bit oppressive, I don’t mean to. The serious nature of the crimes committed here (none of which, by the way, are ever trivialised) are lightened by humour. The prose is ripe with witty remarks and ridiculously funny, if absurd, situations, so much so that you can’t help but feel a little empathy for Martin John. Yes, he’s manipulative, yes, he’s a liar, yes, he harms others, but somewhere along the line you realise it could all be stopped if he received the right treatment, for Martin John is not normal.
And Trevor had this to say: I wouldn’t mind if this one won, and it battled for the first spot on my own list. On the one hand, it was the most compelling read, and the compulsion to keep reading was helped by the streamlined style as we go through the fragmented thoughts of a sexual offender and those who must associate with him.
With that, we turn things over to the Real Jury. They have shown a taste for the experimental in their choices so far — who knows how that will play out next Tuesday.