Posted in Books I have read

Humber Boy B – Ruth Dugdall

Psychological Thriller 5*'s
Psychological Thriller

Ruth Dugdall has used one of the most emotive subjects for the basis of this, her third novel featuring probation officer Cate Austin, that of children who kill. This book will stay with me for a long while because it is a book that makes you reflect on how the justice system manages these, thankfully rare, events.

The blurb tells us that a boy fell from the Humber Bridge and two brothers were convicted of being involved in his death but this book starts at a point eight years after the event, on the release day of Humber Boy B, now known as Ben following his change of identity, moved to an area far away from his home in Hull and unsurprisingly his struggle to adapt to a world that he hasn’t been part of since he was ten years old.

The story is told through multiple viewpoints from those who were there on the day of Noah’s death including Cheryl who was with her father Roger Palmer, a teacher who tirelessly tries to rescue the young boy. This structure can be confusing but the chapters are clearly labelled, some as The Day Of, others with the present day story with the narrator’s name and what unfolds is all the more chilling for the lack of melodrama on that fateful day. The story in the present time follows Ben on his release including a facebook page which has been set up by Noah’s mother, an anonymous and frequent commentator, Silent Friend, seems to want to help her to find Ben and the answers she longs for. Reading these posts was more unnerving despite their briefness, as they seemed so much like those comments that you’d rather not read on all types of social media.

This is an intelligent book that clearly defines the different roles involved in Ben’s new life. The police see Ben as a different boy to Cate who delves through his case files to gain an understanding of someone who needs help with everyday life as well as finding a job and needing protection from any lurking vigilantes who may work out who he really is. This is unsurprising as Ruth Dugdall worked in units not unlike the fictional young offenders units where Ben spent his sentence, and in her own words helped boys like Ben.

Humber Boy B is published by Legend Press who were kind enough to give me a proof copy for review purposes, it will be out for the kindle on 1 April 2015 but you can already buy a paperback copy.

Previous Books featuring Cate Austin

The Woman Before Me

The Sacrificial Man

Other books about child killers:

Non Fiction
As If – Blake Morrison

The Child Who – Simon Lelic
The Wicked Girls – Alex Marwood
The Guilty One – Lisa Ballantyne


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

25 thoughts on “Humber Boy B – Ruth Dugdall

    1. It is definitely a book that you need to be in the right frame of mind for because of the subject matter but as you can see I have an interest in the issues raised. Looking from a probation officer’s viewpoint really does add a different perspective.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I have had a great deal of admiration for this author since I read The Woman Before Me as they are intelligent reads as well as telling a great story. Humber Boy B deals with a difficult subject matter and sure makes you think but at the same time tells a believable story as horrifying as it might be. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. It certainly sounds like a powerful read, Cleo. And you’re right, it’s a difficult topic. That’s an interesting way to explore it, too – to look at the impact on the young offender(s) as well as on the victim and family. Thanks for sharing this.


    1. It is an impressive look at an emotive issue from a different perspective. The lives of the youngster’s that commit crimes are altered forever however leniently the public deem their punishment to have been.


  2. This is not an author I’ve read before, but I have this book pre-ordered. I have read The Wicked Girls and enjoyed that one very much.


    1. I do hope you enjoy it – I thought it incredibly well written as it had the insights from someone who has worked in the field. I also recommend The Woman Before Me which was her first book in the series.


    1. It was very impressive as you say the author didn’t force her views onto the reader but gave enough of an insight to enable us to view these types of crime from a different perspective -It was an incredibly powerful read.


  3. I’m going to read this very soon. Another excellent non-fiction about a child killer is Gift a Sereny’s Cries Unheard, about Mary Bell. A memorable read. I’m really looking forward to this one now, Cleo, super review. As soon as I finish what I’m reading, I think!


  4. This is definitely a book I must read….I love books about children who have done horrific things (probably because of something in their home lives). And probation officers…well, I like those characters, too. Thanks for sharing.


    1. Judging by your comments you will thoroughly enjoy the reasons behind the killing and Cate Austin’s take on the perpetrator which isn’t always in agreement with the other professionals involved.


  5. Glad it turned out as well as the blurb made it sound. I can’t fit it in at the moment (see how well-behaved I’m being?) but it shall go on my wishlist for future reading…


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