BOOK REVIEW: Killing Richard Dawson (Robin Baker, Pantera Press)

Killing Richard Dawson is the debut novel from up-and-comer Robin Baker. It follows 19-year-old sociopath Richard Dawson on the painstaking road to utter self-annihilation. Following his mother’s suicide when Richard is 11, he is all but left to fend for himself. Even lonelier than he was to begin with, he becomes unable to empathise with those around him, yet desperate to connect with somebody, anybody, in order to save himself from what he will become. The way in which Baker approaches the character of Richard is intriguing to say the least. Every observation and opinion expressed by Richard, every nuance of his personality is laced with an almost childlike naivety, which only an extremely competent author would be capable of producing. The leitmotif in this dark, disturbing piece centres around happiness, and how far is too far to go in order to achieve it. Killing Richard Dawson takes the reader on an unsettling journey into the psyche of a man with nothing to lose—but everything to gain. This book might appeal most to 18- to 25-year-olds. That said, it will also have no problem holding captive those who fall outside this demographic. A truly gripping read.

B Owen Baxter works at Emporium Books Australia. He is currently studying writing and linguistics. This review first appeared in the April issue of Bookseller+Publisher. You can read the April 2010 issue online here.