Thursday 28 November 2013

Double Crossing

Double Crossing by Richard Platt, illustrated by Alexandra Higlett (Walker Books)
PB RRP $16.95
ISBN 9781406345056
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

It begins in Ireland 1906. Poverty stricken David O’Connor has recently lost his mother. He poaches fish from the traps to survive with his friend Pat. A silly prank instigated by Pat leads to the death of the waterman. This, followed closely by the death of David’s father, changes the course of David’s life.

Unable to stay any longer with the neighbours, David travels to New York to live with his uncle. The journey in third class is dreadful but David sees it as an adventure, especially when he meets and is befriended by a boy from the upper class that bears an uncanny resemblance to him.

This strange and eventful journey is more than one journey and more than one story. It is a structure of events built with incredible talent and technique about loyalty and friendships; truth and lies, and the price of silence. It keeps the reader riveted from beginning to end with its perfect prose and sharp descriptions that call the senses to attention.

The putrid smells of the streets assault the nose as does the ugliness which is ever-present before the eyes. You can hear the ugliness in the voices and also in the physical and verbal assaults on the street urchins, while the sound of the carriages echo in the background.

Double Crossing is sad and moving, but simultaneously full of serendipity. It will be remembered and recalled due to the authenticity of the narrator’s voice through the diary entries, and its astonishing twists and turns. It is a masterful piece of work that deserves the accolades it will get.

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