Border Crossing



Pat Barker’s Border Crossing is a satisfying read.  Not a policier or a mystery and yet the atmosphere is edgey and the writing pacey and it’s not possible to second guess if it will end badly, or for whom if it does. Thought provoking.

Several borders are crossed mostly metaphorical. From innocence to guilt, unhappiness to happiness, childhood to adulthood, dysfunctional to functional, professional to unprofessional. The theme is redemption, not wishing to give anything away.
Tom Seymour – child psychologist gave evidence at the trial of Danny Miller a child murderer that helped secure his conviction. Danny seeks him out years later after his release in to the community with a new name a new identity.
Walking with his wife along a canal tow path Tom witnesses a young man swallow a bottle of pills and throw himself into the water and dives in, with barely a second thought, in an attempt to rescue him. The young man is Danny Miller and the suicide attempt a calculated risk to make contact again.  Danny blames Tom for his conviction and maintains his innocence. The reader is uncertain of the truth and whether Danny wants help or retribution; herein lies the tension. Described as a’ boy capable of almost anything’, which would explain the risk taking. It seems anything could happen. Danny is not a one dimensional baddy; it is possible to feel sympathy for him although I’m not au fait with a criminally insane mind, one could imagine a deep desire to live like everyone else.

The suicide attempt and rescue  is a pivotal moment even though it happens first and the fallout of this apparently desperate act lingers through the story. It is perhaps the moment when Tom’s marriage turns from the tensions of trying for a baby to break up.

The failing marriage as backdrop to the drama adds an extra layer of uncertainty. Even the new love interest, Tom Seymour’s colleague Martha, Danny’s social worker, is not a safe bet. Tom describes his feelings for her, ‘like pulling on a comforting woolen jumper when it’s cold’, which would seem to the outsider just what the doctor ordered after a day battling with child murderers, yet it is whole chapters before he recognises his feelings.

Oh, I discover i signed up for 24 books for the good reads challenge which is a less dismal estimate.



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