cover image The Killer's Tears

The Killer's Tears

Anne-Laure Bondoux, , trans. from the French by Y. Maudet. . Delacorte, $15.95 (162pp) ISBN 978-0-385-73293-2

French author Bondoux's (The Destiny of Linus Hoppe ) evocative and beautifully translated story reaches into the icy soul of a murderer and chronicles the warming effect of a needy and innocent boy. Set on the southernmost tip of Chile, the novel begins as Angel, a wanderer, arrives at young Paolo's house and kills his parents but spares Paolo, who can bring him water and cook him soup. Over time, Angel becomes attached to the boy as they build a new life together. But then another traveler, Luis, who is a good and learned man, stops in to stay, and Angel becomes more possessive of Paolo. Eventually this conflict leads to a bad end for Angel when they make a three-day journey to the city to purchase more animals. By then readers will have grown as attached to the two odd men and the lonely boy as the characters have become to each other. When Angel is jailed, Paolo is forbidden to see him and is warned that it is "not normal" to love a murderer. "He hoped his heart would wear out and stop beating. What other way was there to stop loving someone?" If not for the mention of surveillance cameras in the town's bank, this tale could be set almost anytime, considering that the trio travels on horseback and relies upon livestock for food. An affecting fable-like style and absorbing narrative sustain this unusual story to its redemptive conclusion. Ages 12-up. (Feb.)