I do enjoy modern thrillers, so it's not completely unlikely that I would have read this without the Booker longlist nomination that caused me to push the "add to waitlist" button on my e-library account. And I've probably wasted too much mental energy since, wondering whether the odd halo cast by the Booker has subtly altered my expectations and in what direction.
I quite enjoyed this, but it had a few shortcomings that niggled at me during and after the reading. Chief amongst these was an unsupported motivation for the principal crime - a motivation referenced in the title, but really no motivation at all. I know people snap, but we got to know the villain so little that his snapping seemed not just out of character but out of the blue. The main character, Jack, was much more accessible, and in the main much more likeable, which helped somewhat to bridge over the rather distressing way he solved the problem of his mother's murderer towards the end of the book. However, I couldn't help feeling that the random vandalism and lashing out that was the nastier end of a generally nice young boy was planted more to make his violence at the end seem plausible than because it was consistent with his own back-story.
Marvel and Reynolds, the cops, are a nicely-balanced pair of caricatures with a good double act that provokes the occasional smile. I hope, if this is part of a series, that Rice, their female sidekick, gets a bit more to do than she did here: as a character, I felt she had promise.
I liked the deliberation of the initial chapters and the way the plot picked up in both pace and bizarre events towards the end. This is as it should be in a thriller. There was, however, no twist to speak of (the identity of the knife-maker was, I suppose, a bit of a reveal, though certainly one I saw coming). The only mildly unexpected thing at the end was that one of the cops suppressed some information that would have had grave consequences for young Jack.
Anyway, I'd recommend this for people who like thrillers anyway, but not for people who read prize literature nominees because of their literary qualities.