Crippen – John Boyne

First of all a warning. If you haven’t read the book already, don’t read the cover! This may be a strange way to start a blog about a book but I really hate it when there is a spoiler on the cover. And I do think that a publisher as well as an author never should allow that to happen. Even if the book is based on a true story and I could’ve known what had happened. I simply didn’t. You shouldn’t put something on the cover that actually happens in the book on page 334. And then end the description with the words “but all is nog as it seems…..”.

Crippen is the third book that I’ve read in the Trans World Book Challenge. The story starts in 1910 when The Montrose sets sail on its voyage to Canada. Amongst the passengers are Mr Robinson and his son Edmund. A strange couple, at least that’s what the captain thinks. In the next chapter we’re going back in time. It’s 1862 and we’re in Michigan. We get to know the Samuel Crippen, his wife Jezebel Quirk and their son Hawley Harvey. In 504 pages Boyne tells us how Mr Robinson and Hawley Harvey are connected.

To me it was the first book by John Boyne. I was looking forward to reading it since I’ve heard good stories about his book “The boy in the striped pajamas”. Crippen is quite a good read. Boyne is a good storyteller and I do like that the book alternates between the present and the past. Yet the book could have been bore exciting and I don’t like the way the reader is misdirected by the author. For instance. If a person in the book is a she then the authorial voice shouldn’t call this person a he. Because of that I thought something was wrong, it just didn’t fit. And I was right. So to me the end wasn’t that surprising though.

But the book is entertaining. My judgement, three stars.


John Boyne has got his own official website.


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