Patchwork Man, by D.B. Martin, is an intriguingly twisted story of complicated families. The first in a planned trilogy, it introduces us to QC Lawrence Juste, an eminent barrister with a sordid but secret history. Following the death of his wife he finds his past catching up with him, threatening to unravel the life he has worked so hard to create. As he confronts the family that he believes abandoned him, he discovers that he has been manipulated for many years by shadowy figures linked to his childhood. The convoluted interrelationships uncovered threaten to ruin him and those he has come to care for.
The young Lawrence Juste, or Kenny Juss as he was then, suffered many kinds of abuse. The reader is spared no detail as these are described along with his coping mechanisms. That this type of treatment undoubtedly happens made me feel an impotent despair, especially when it seemed that his attempts to rise above his victimhood were to be dashed. Bullying is not confined to childhood.
I found the intricate and interwoven threads of the plot difficult to keep track of at times. A series of family trees would have been useful, but would have taken the edge off the various revelations that were intrinsic to the pace and structure of the story. The book has a large cast of significant characters, many of whom will, I hope, be further developed in the sequels.
I found the writing challenging. It is certainly not a comfortable read with its casual violence and underbelly of cruelty, callousness and lies. Although poverty played its part, the wealthy could be just as twisted and evil. The author explores how low a man will sink to survive, how much of the better self he wishes to believe in will be sacrificed when he feels sufficiently threatened.
Knowing that some people are capable of this kind of behaviour gives the tale resonance. I liked the analogy of life as a patchwork of experiences, but it is depressing to consider that if circumstances prevailed then a tale as black as this could be true.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the author.