The Good Son by You-jeong Jeong

I’ll admit that I agreed to review this book because the protagonist is a swimmer, and I was hoping for some passages about how wonderful swimming is. Something like Jessica J. Lee’s Turning: A Swimming Memoir.

If you’re buying it for that reason, you’ll be disappointed at the lack of swimming-related content. But you won’t be disappointed by the book itself, which is excellent. It was so gripping that I got angry with myself for not being able to stay awake long enough to finish it in one go. 

Yu-jin wakes up one morning to a terrible stench of blood. When he opens his eyes, he realises the smell is coming from him: he’s covered in blood, and there’s a trail of it leading out of his bedroom door. But he doesn’t seem to be injured. What’s going on?

Heading downstairs, Yu-jin discovers the body of someone he knows all too well. But why is there a corpse in his living room? And more to the point, why is he covered in its blood?

For years now Yu-jin has been suffering from seizures and blackouts, made worse when he stops taking his medication. He must have had a seizure the night before, because he can’t remember anything about what happened. But how could Yu-jin, a champion swimmer, a model son, a student who’s just applied for law school, possibly be involved in something so awful?

Faced with what seems like irrefutable evidence, Yu-jin sets out to uncover what happened. During his investigation he comes face to face with his inner self, and discovers more about his past than he ever knew it was possible to keep hidden…

It’s impossible to review this book without spoilers, because the story is so intense and rests so strongly on the murderer’s identity that reviewing it without giving the game away is beyond my abilities.

Suffice it to say that all wasn’t what it seemed within Yu-jin’s family: the death of his father and brother some years ago left even more of a mark on the rest of their lives than he knew at the time.

The Good Son is a story of betrayal of trust; of what it means to be a family. It will make you question yourself, because it’s impossible not to empathise with the murderer at certain points in the story. It will make you think about your own life and the relationships within it, and what it might take to push you onto a path darker than you could imagine.

If you enjoy a good psychological thriller, read this book. It’ll grip you right from the very beginning, and keep you caught in its web all the way through. I can’t wait to read more from You-jeong Jeong.

The Good Son was published by Little, Brown on 3rd May 2018.

I received a free copy of an advance proof from the publisher in exchange for a review. In reality it’s difficult to tell if this affected my view of it, because arguably we’re all affected by every experience we have, but suffice it to say I’ve trashed review copies I haven’t liked in the past, so I doubt it makes enough of a difference to skew my viewpoint on it. 


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