Monday, 2 June 2014

All The Things You Are

All The Things You Are by Declan Hughes
Published by Severn House
27th February 2014
Hardback Edition



Danny Brogan burned his future wife’s family to death when he was eleven years old...

Knocking on forty, with her youthful dreams of being an actress in dust, there's no doubt in her mind suburban wife and mother of two Clare Taylor has settled. A wild week in Chicago may have shaken things up a bit, but as she turns her key in her Madison, Wisconsin home on the eve of Halloween, she knows that what happened with her ex-boyfriend was nothing more than a distraction, that this is where her life is.

Except it's all gone. The furniture gone, the house stripped, her husband Danny, her daughters, all gone; no message, no note, nothing. Outside in the dark, searching for a sign, she steps in one: the eviscerated body of the family dog.

By dawn the next morning, her (as far as she knew, mortgage-free) home has been foreclosed against, one of Danny's childhood friends lies dead in her backyard, and Clare is caught up in a nightmare that began with her husband on Halloween night, 1976, and that reaches its terrifying climax thirty five years later.

Sunday, October 23

Danny Brogan burned his future wife's family to death when he was eleven years old.  Whether by accident or design, he's not entirely sure, or at least that's what he's always told himself. It was probably no great surprise that as a result he should develop a morbid fear of fire, nor that this fear should stay with him throughout his life.  Fear is a man's best friend, or so the song goes, and Danny carried his fear of fire, just as he carried his fear of the friends that were with him that night, until it sometimes looked like the twin burdens might overwhelm him.

     No one really knew what he had done except his freinds Dave and Gene and Ralph, and even they differed on the details, and while that had all promised never to tell, there was always the fear that they might.  Not at first, not in the immediate aftermath, the whole city in shock, the church services and processions of mourning, the burial of the dead, the tiny white coffins.  Not in the following weeks or months, the surviving child placed in foster care and then with adoptive parents miles away, the burnt-out house demolished and rebuild until you'd never know there'd been a fire there at all.  Not in the years after that, as junior high gave way to the high-school riot of sports and studies and hormones, Brains, Emotions and Muscles vying daily for supremacy, like in the old comic book advetisement.  No one ever said a word.  It was as if it had never happened, as if their childhoods had never happened, as if memory was no longer necessary.  The furture was the only game in town: the next exam, the next football game, the next pretty girl.  Who cared what happened when they were kids?

This is the first Declan Hughes novel that I have read.  The premise is this: Clare comes home from a trip away to find her house empty - no husband, no children and no possessions.  Outside, the family dog is dead, and not from natural causes.  There is nothing to indicate where they are, or why they have had to leave.  Clare is left totally in the dark.

What then happens is real back-and-forth novel, telling Clare's present day story, Danny's 1976 tale, and something else in between.  Obviously I can't tell you too many of the details here as that would spoil the plot! 

I did get a little over-whelmed in parts, there are lots of characters in All The Things You Are and with so much too-ing and fro-ing I did get a bit confused in places.  What I will say is this, stick with it, once you've worked out who is who (or who you think they are), then Declan Hughes starts to really work on his plot and you are drawn in to the story.  The underlying factor is this: we all have the ability to turn outselves into what we want to be, to create our own image, but no matter who you really are, reality and the truth are always out there to be found; if someone wants to do so badly enough, and for Danny and Clare, there is someone out there who wants to do just that. 


Happy Reading


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