Review of The Good Son by You-Jeong Jeong

Published by Little Brown in 2018.     ISBN: 979-1-40871-123-1 (HB)

 This is the first of the author’s several   novels to be translated into English.  “The smell of blood woke me.”  Yu-Jin is a twenty something South Korean aspiring lawyer and competition-winning swimmer with a history of epileptic seizures and blackouts.  After one such episode, he regains consciousness in the family home early one morning to find himself encrusted in human blood. Following a trail of bloody hand and foot prints leads him to the kitchen where he finds his control freak of a mother lifeless with her throat slit.  Yu-Jin’s recollection of the events of the previous night is hazy. There’s no sign of a break-in. Is he guilty of committing brutal matricide? If so, why?  And where were his aunt and adoptive brother during the crucial hours?Frequently off his meds, Yu-Jin must tunnel deep into the past and present of family history in an attempt to find an answer. What happened?  Did he or didn’t he? That is the question.  He is all too aware that he stands to be accused as the prime suspect if he summons the police to the scene so he makes a strange decision.This is a tale of family dynamics that possesses brilliantly observed characterisation. It meanders through creepy and dark aspects of human psychology and is no worse for that because sticking with the slow burn keeps you guessing and ultimately reveals the unexpected.  Largely narrated in the first person, it’s an intriguing read with ingenious twists and turns until the truth finally emerges. Although not, as the blurb suggests, in the same league as Stephen King, nevertheless it is a well constructed and chilling read with credible dialogue that I highly recommend.  It is ably translated into the English language by Chi-Young Kim and has been optioned as a movie.

Reviewer: Serena Fairfax

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