Thin Air

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade October 2001

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I read a fiction book entitled Thin Air, written by Gerald Hammond.

In the story, the main character is a man named Simon Parbitter, a murder mystery writer who is living in Scotland. The main character also is the narrator of the story. Simon's goal throughout the story was to solve the mystery of how a man nicknamed "Old Murdo" was murdered. Parbitter worked for Old Murdo as a part time handyman. His goal of solving the mystery is illustrated on page 92 of the book. Parbitter says to the widow of Old Murdo, and her son "I'm so, so, sorry about what happened, everyone is doing what they can to solve the case, and I personally won't stop until we find out who is behind this".

The conflict faced by Parbitter in solving the mystery is the high number of suspects involved, and the many theories surrounding the case.

The murder was committed in a rural area, and the lack of investigators also added to the difficulty in solving the mystery.

In the end, the murderer turns out to be Old Murdo's son Young Murdo, who commits suicide days after his father's death. Young Murdo shot his father after enduring more than twenty years of mistreatment at the hands of his father. To complicate the story, Young Murdo was in love with the neighboring farmer's daughter, a forbidden romance because of an ongoing feud between the two farm families. This story line is similar to Romeo and Juliet. This also gives Young Murdo even more cause to want his father dead.

After murdering his own father partly out of love for Alice McKee, she ends the relationship. Devastated, Young Murdo feels he has nothing to live for, puts cyanide in a rabbit hole and ends his life by breathing the fumes in the hole.

Although Parbitter eventually comes to know the truth surrounding the murder, for the young girl's sake, a cover up story was concocted and the case was closed, labeling it as an accidental shooting of the father, followed by the suicide of the guilt-ridden son.

The author does a good job describing the setting throughout the story. On page 1 he says "I was at my desk looking South past the blank screen of my word processor, and across the farm land which glowed and shimmered in the bright July sunshine. The scene represented some of the best of he Scotch borders, fertile and ripening and punctuated by trees in full leaf." I thought that this book was good because of the suspense, and the fact that the reader is kept guessing almost until the last page. It was confusing because there were over twenty characters to keep track of, and they all had their own stories. Almost all of these characters were suspects at one time or another, keeping the reader interested in the story until the mystery is finally solved.