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A sad and sorry tale

A new novel on date rape fails to live up to its hype

Inexcusable

By Chris Lynch

Bloomsbury pound;6.99

Chris Lynch's third novel comes trailing clouds of critical glory from its publication in the United States, where it was shortlisted for a major award, and highly praised for its handling of a controversial subject: date rape. But it's a disappointment, and it doesn't live up to the hype.

The central character is Keir, a teenager going through the motions in the last few months before graduating from high school. He lives with his widower dad, his beloved older sisters having flown the nest for college.

His main interests are football (of the American type), and Gigi, a girl he's deeply attracted to, but who is, alas, going steady with another guy.

We're told at the beginning that the date rape has occurred and the bulk of the book is made up of Keir's first-person narration of what led him to it.

We soon realise he's a classic unreliable narrator, too, but it's never clear whether he has deliberately done wrong without understanding the effects of his actions, or his intentions have been misunderstood.

And that's the problem. Lynch has written the beginning of a thought-provoking story, not a whole one. We're left wondering what happens next, with no resolution and no real examination of the moral issues.

Inexcusable is a good title, but Unfinished would be a better one.

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