‘Don’t tell anyone what you did to Bee Larkham…’
The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder is described as ‘a touching coming-of-age story and an intriguing mystery, a poignant and unforgettable read—perfect for fans of bestselling authors such as Mark Haddon and Graeme Simsion.’
On reading through it’s pages I was immediately reminded of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time as the similarities between fifteen year old Christopher and thirteen year old Jasper were there from the beginning.
The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder takes the reader on a journey into the mind of thirteen year old Jasper, a young boy with Synaesthesia and Face-Blindness (Prosopagnosia), both conditions I was completely unaware of until I started reading this book. Sarah J Harris tackles a subject that she first came across over nine years ago when working as an educational journalist and she happened upon a study into the ‘prevalence in childhood of a condition that causes the merging of the senses.’ In layman’s terms, it is where a person experiences two or more senses combined, for example tasting words and associating colour with sound. What a fascinating concept, don’t you think?
Sarah wanted to put her thoughts into words by writing a novel which highlighted the joy of living in a world where everything was experienced through splashes of colour, while at the same time being a dangerous place never knowing who to trust.
Jasper Wishart has Synaesthesia and Prosopagnosia. Following the very traumatic loss of his mother from cancer at a very young age, Jasper’s Dad changes his career to spend more time with Jasper, to be there for him. They move house to an area that holds fewer painful memories of the happy life they had before, but for Jasper, his life will never be the same. His mother was the one person who understood his condition, the one person who had total acceptance of his peculiarities and his need for certain order in his life.
One day, following the arrival of a new neighbour, life suddenly changes for Jasper. Bee Larkham is fun, she dances wildly to her music that she plays very loudly every day and night and she loves birds, parakeets in particular. With multiple feeders in her garden, Jasper is thrilled to see the arrival of lots of parakeets with their vivid colours and cacophony of sounds. Jasper becomes slightly obsessed with Bee Larkham, associating many of her quirky traits with that of his mother, but also because Bee, like his mother, seems to understand him.
But for Jasper, his fragile world of colour comes tumbling down when Bee Larkham disappears. Jasper paints pictures where others would write down their thoughts. Jasper’s painting are like his diary but only Jasper can decipher his own thoughts. When the police come calling, Jasper is identified as a key witness in Bee Larkham’s disappearance but it soon becomes clear to all involved that this case involves a lot more than that of one missing person.
Sarah J Harris captures Jasper’s frustrations and anxieties with such heart-wrenching clarity. Jasper knows deep down that he has the answer but he is just incapable of getting his thoughts in order. Jasper’s father is questioned about Bee’s disappearance, as are many others, including Jasper, but it is Jasper alone who holds the key. His thoughts are all jumbled as he searches through his paintings looking for answers…..until eventually the truth does manifest itself.
Jasper is a very special boy and The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder is a very special story. It will not necessarily appeal to all, due to the nature of the topics covered, but I guarantee, those that do read it, will close the covers with a feeling of been educated somehow and of been allowed, however briefly, into this incredible world of colour.
The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder is a fascinating tale, encouraging us all to be more tolerant of folk who we may consider different in our society today. As a species we can be very cruel and dismissive of folk who we see as peculiar. Sarah J Harris highlights this with a simplicity and with a great story, but also, and most importantly, leaving us all with a little better understanding of the world that we now live in.
Poignant. Touching. Eloquent. Inspiring.
(c) Swirl and Thread
Order your copy online here.