Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Teen/YA Fiction Review: Blank Confession

 Pete Hautman’s Blank Confession is an unusual sort of teen/YA murder mystery because the murderer confesses in the very first chapter, but we don’t know who he killed or why until the end of the book.

The novel opens when 16-year old Shayne Blank walks into his local police station and confesses to murder to Detective Rawls, who tries to figure out what happened:

“Who did you kill?”

The kid didn’t say anything, same as the first time Rawls had asked him that question – instead he reached for the metal ring attached to a hinge bolted to the tabletop and ran his fingers over it.  The ring was there so that a potentially violent suspect could be handcuffed to the steel table, which was bolted to the floor.  Rawls sat back and looked at his watch: 5:09.  It didn’t matter.  This time he was going to wait for the kid to speak, no matter how long it took.

It took two minutes and thirteen seconds.  The kid flopped the ring back and forth: Clank. Clank. Clank.

“It’s kind of a long story,” the kid said.

Yes, it is.  The rest of the book alternates between Shayne telling his story to Detective Rawls and Shayne’s only friend, Mikey, telling his version of the events that led to Shayne walking into the police station.  It’s a fairly convoluted story, but Shayne seems like a good guy, so there’s plenty of suspense involved as the reader wonders how events could have led to murder.  Despite his confession, you find yourself rooting for Shayne.  It’s a quick, satisfying read.

170 pages, Simon & Schuster


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