Macmillan | 2018 (22 February) | 432p | Review copy | Buy the book
If you’ve not read Rattle then tread no further. The Collector follows hot on the heels of Rattle and the two should be read together. This review assumes that you’ve already had the ‘pleasure’ of meeting the Bone Collector.
Our young and valiant hero Jakey escaped the Bone Collector but he had to leave behind little Clara, a fact that will haunt the boy just as it tears apart Clara’s mother, Amy. Life for Amy has stopped. There is so little hope left but what there is comes from DS Etta Fitzroy, whose mission in life is to recover Clara and finally lock the Bone Collector away from the world. Etta is perhaps the only person who believes Clara is still alive. But she can’t have much time left – if she has any at all. As for the Bone Collector, he knows that the police know who he is. He must begin his collection again from scratch but how he mourns the loss of Jakey. How he still wants that extraordinary child in his collection. He needs an assistant, a son even, someone who knows how he feels, someone who is driven to collect. He knows just the person.
Rattle was one of the creepiest thrillers that I read last year, with characters that stayed on the mind. Notably its children. Clara and Jakey are precious and so innocent. Jakey has to deal with a life shortening disease. He won’t make old bones. But he is full of the joy of life, just as Clara believes in her heart that she must be rescued soon because the snow is beginning to fall. Christmas is coming. Father Christmas will save her. My heart fell for these children utterly and there are moments in both of these novels that are painfully poignant and desperate. I’m so glad that Fiona Cummins returned to the story with The Collector. I needed to know what was going to happen.
While Clare and Jakey are innocent, others are not and we’re given a new and intriguing character in The Collector, Saul. He’s complex, undoubtedly odd, and his relationship with his mother is one of the most absorbing parts of the novel. Parenthood is a big theme in these novels and it comes in all shapes and sizes but each type is here under scrutiny.
It’s so good to see the return of Etta Fitzroy, a favourite character of mine in both books. She’s enduring a Herculanean struggle but knows she must never repeat the old mistakes. She is so driven and kind. And another one here who could be described as desperate.
Fiona Cummins writes beautifully and she is also brilliant at characterisation – of both the good and the evil kinds. The Bone Collector himself is truly a demon, despite his physical fragility, but he’s only one of the fascinating characters in The Collector. There are several stories here, all intertwining, illuminating one another. The result is a novel every bit as excellent and chilling as Rattle. It’s a large book but it’s undoubtedly a pageturner. This is an urgent read but with such innocence in danger how could it be anything else?