This post of ‘Books That Have Stayed’ features a book that is not only a well-paced, suspenseful crime thriller, but the only book I have read so far that has actually horrified me. Not in a way that spoils the book, of course. You see, despite reading horrors now and again, they don’t frighten me as much as horror films do. There’s nothing wrong with the horrors I read; it’s just that I’m not susceptible to horror books. They don’t scare me.
But there is a book that did…
A quiet residential street in south London.
A husband and wife is discovered, imprisoned in their own home. Badly dehydrated, they’ve been bound and beaten. He is close to death.
But worse is to come: their young son is missing.
When DI Jack Caffery is called in to investigate, the similarities with events in his own past make it impossible for him to view this new crime dispassionately.
And as he digs deeper – as he attempts to hold his own life together in the face of ever more disturbing revelations about both his past and his present – the real nightmare begins…
Before I begin to explain how this book affected me, I will warn you that this is an incredibly dark book that deals with several delicate issues such as sexual violence, paedophilia, child abuse and mental health. I cannot stress to you enough that this book is harsh and bleak and I honestly understand if you don’t want to continue reading.
The Treatment is a well-written crime thriller that refused to lose my attention; the second book in Mo Hayder’s DI Jack Caffery series. I do read crime thrillers, though I do tend to find them quite formulaic with clichéd characters, like the obsessed detective with a dark past; a serial killer who kills their victims in unusual, sickening ways; the loyal fellow detective, etc. It is a formula that works well, however I try not to read so many crime thrillers one after another otherwise I start to spot similar patterns and characters and don’t get as emotionally involved as I would like to.
This formula is found in The Treatment, but what makes this book different is the variations of these characters and plot points as well as how it deals with issues in a way that shocks the reader, but is also handled wisely. Wisely as in ‘the reader is told straight from the start that book is sinister, so they know what they are getting themselves into’. The Treatment does get even more sinister as the book progresses, but I do respect the fact that the writing does give this impression through its atmosphere, characters and situation at the beginning.
Yet I still wasn’t prepared for what I was about to read…
It had been two years after I read The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, another book that made such as huge impact on me that I wrote a post about it, and I thought I could handle disturbing books with no complete happy ending.
Then I read The Treatment.
I’m afraid I’ll have to spoil it here slightly, but I’ll make sure it doesn’t ruin it too much for those who want to read the novel. You see, in one of the storylines, I was led to believe that there will be closure for this particular character; that the sacrifices made were worth it. My interpretation of Mo Hayder’s writing thought this would be end similarly to The Lovely Bones. However, my hopes were crushed. What in fact happened actually made me gasp out aloud and, despite reading this book outside in the sun, I grew cold and numb.
And I cried.
Never before had I cried at a book before, not even with The Lovely Bones. I was shaken by this so much that I was furious. I didn’t hate the book, it is one of the best crime thrillers I have read so far, but I was shaken by the events. There are very little positive things in this story and the themes of sexual violence and child abuse are very intense, making it a depressing read. Now, I do like books that balances emotions, but I can appreciate books that focuses on negative emotions in order to create a desired effect.
I felt The Treatment wanted to be a distressing crime thriller and it definitely succeeded.
I will not be rereading The Treatment anytime soon, but it isn’t because it was the worst book I ever read and want to keep it in my past. It’s because I still remember the details of it, even though I read it just over three years ago. I see The Treatment as a reminder that there won’t always be happy endings or even a lot of positivity.
That’s the reason why The Treatment has stayed with me. This is the only book that did what horror books should do to me: it frightened me to the very core of my being, so much so it made me cry.
If you like crime thrillers that are intense, shocking and gripping, then this is the book for you. If you’re not and you find the subject matter too disturbing, I can honestly say I don’t blame you.
Thank you for reading.