Crusher by Niall Leonard

Publication Date: September 13th, 2012
Random House
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars
To catch a killer,Finn Maguire may have to become one….

Everything changed the day Finn found his father in a pool of blood, bludgeoned to death. His dull, dreary life is turned upside down as he become’s the prime suspect. How can he clear his name and find out who hated his dad enough to kill him?

Facing danger at every turn, uncovering dark family secrets and braving the seedy London underworld,Finn is about to discover that only the people you trust can really hurt you….

Though my collection of crime/suspense books is pathetically sparse, I can say with utmost confidence that this one was one of the better ones I’ve read.
The novel introduces us to Finn Maguire – a dyslexic drop out with little prospects for the future. He’s not unhappy for the most part; he’s just one of those kids who roll with the punches. Abandoned by his own mother to the care of his stepfather, he’d had to make do with whatever he can to survive. He just didn’t expect his life to be at a constant peril when his stepfather was murdered – especially when the cops suspected him to doing the job himself.
With street-smarts and a passable boxing talent, Finn sets out to solve the murder. What he uncovers is a tangled web of greed, blackmail, crime of passion and family dark secrets he wasn’t at all ready for.
Let’s give credit where credit is due. This book will make you think, will make you guess and second-guess your instincts and anticipate the divine satisfaction of a crime solved. It has all the elements you’d want for a great mystery book. And while I can praise the author for successfully penning a got-you-by-the-nose story, it all comes down to a reader’s preference. I, for one am not a fan of mystery novels. I think the last time I got caught into the whirlwind of a good book in this genre was I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga.
In some ways, Finn was a realistic character. But I couldn’t get reach him at times. He was cold and stoic, emotionally unavailable and perpetually impassive. I don’t know about you but for me, a good book typically has characters that incite empathy. I couldn’t feel a thing for Finn. He’s so detached from the story – from whatever’s happening in the book. It’s as if he’s telling somebody else’s story and not his. This boy got beat to within an inch of his life but I couldn’t remember an instance when he actually felt like he’s been through a meat grinder. I mean, come on now. What are you? An android? He was unable to show grief over the death of the only father he’s ever known; the only person in his life who cared enough to stick around. Chalk it up to Finn being a strong male character and all, but heck, just because you showed a glimmer of sadness doesn’t mean you’re weak. 
And forget about the romance. Actually, Finn and Zoe are perfect for each other. They’re both as unfeeling as a couple of statues.
I did like the intricate weaving of clues and mysteries surrounding the novel. And the eventual revelation was so much more than I’d expected. Throughout the story, I never felt had a definite inkling as to whodunnit; Niall did a marvelous job of not making it so obvious.
VERDICT: If you’re looking for a nice mystery novel in the YA genre, this is a book that might tickle your fancy. I just couldn’t fully enjoy a book with characters as bland and one-dimensional. Oddly enough, this is a one-sitting book and I can’t figure out why.  It could be because it was fast-paced or that Niall knew how to entice a reader – even one like me who’s generally an emotional reader.