Several of my Goodreads friends have written novels. This one is the only one by an author who also inhabits my physical world. His wife is a colleague, so I was curious about this book for that reason. I was also leery. What if I don't like it? What if it is one of those poorly written, poorly edited Indie novels? This guy knows where I live....
Luckily, I'm safe this time. I have lots of good things to say about Subculture. First and most basic, it is clear this author is an author who has studied his craft. This is not a first draft. This is not, as Sue Grafton apparently said about Indie authors, "... a student managing to conquer Five Easy Pieces on the piano and then wondering if s/he's ready to be booked into Carnegie Hall."
A crime drives the plot of Subculture. There's suspense. A high school student, a girl, is arrested for the murder of another student, a boy, and I reached the last pages of the book unsure if she was guilty or not. Both possibilities seemed likely at different times. Did I guess some details of the crime? Sure, but not everything and not without a doubt. And some important things came as a surprise.
Subculture is not just for readers of the crime genre. The author is clearly interested in other things too. The story takes place in Kentucky. In general, the community of the story is Christian and rather insular. People know each other and know each other well, but the accused girl, Marsha Kilderry, is an outsider. Her father came from the town, but she had been living there only a short time before the events of the story. She moved in with her grandmother because she was now an orphan. After the death of her parents, she came to Kentucky from Sri Lanka, her mother's country. She's different from the other kids at school in obvious ways, like her skin color, and in other ways too, such as her thinking and life experience.
Subculture is not the kind of crime novel to open with the crime or some other explosive event. At the same time, I can't imagine saying it has a slow start. Marsha and her grandmother live on a farm. The grandmother is not in the best health and Marsha is responsible for a lot of chores. We experience her world in vivid detail: the pigs, the mud, the natural environment all around her. If you demand a pure, unadulterated crime novel exclusively focused on plot, Subculture may not be your thing, though there are plenty of twists in its 250 pages. If you are interested in a crime story with vivid descriptions of a rural setting, a crime story with a clash of cultures to ponder, and a crime story with an array of interesting characters, give it a shot. The story is told through several characters, including Marsha, an investigating detective, a prosecutor, and more. Usually, that might be a bad thing. It worked well here. One of many things that did!