A mother’s guilt. A father’s death. Two sons, one hiding a dark secret, the other permanently impaired by a childhood injury. This is the powder keg that explodes in Careful!, Richard Madelin’s devastating and suspenseful debut novel. As a child, Lenny had an accident that left him mentally and emotionally challenged, prone to be exploited by the world around him. But he is safe as long as Alice, his devoted mother, is there to protect him. Alice, however, has her own ideas on motherhood, believing that strict discipline, such as putting out burning cigarettes on her now fully grown son’s body, will allow Lenny to “see the light,” and become normal again.
Emotions are pushed past the breaking point when Alice’s estranged son Jack, now a policeman, moves back to their small English village after a ten-year absence. Deciding that this is the last chance to reunite her family, Alice has Lenny brutally kidnap the brother he has forgotten, which leads to a shocking revelation, and finally, murder. Told entirely in interior monologue, Careful! is a stunning tapestry of language, violence and uncontrollable emotion, and was named one of 2004’s top debut fiction titles by LA Weekly.
Richard Madelin lives in Somerset, England. His stories have appeared in The Guardian, Radio Four BBC and Heinemann’s Best.