Martyn Pig
Kevin Brooks

A young boy’s world is turned upside down with the accidental death of his father. One act triggers a serious of events that forever changes the life of Martyn Pig. This book takes a very real look at the disturbing lives of those who struggle with alcoholism.

Martyn understands his father’s drinking problem. He even has his stages of drunkenness mapped out. One evening his father is very drunk and on becoming angry at Martyn lunges toward him. Martyn accidentally pushes him face first into the fireplace, killing him instantly. Martyn lacks emotion at this point which sets up the reader for the continuation of the story.

Martyn enjoys detective stories and from the information he’s heard concocts his own plan to hide the death of his father. He recruits his friend Alex, who tries to persuade him to call the cops. Martyn refuses and instead sleeps through the night with the corpse of his father laying on the living room floor. The next morning, Martyn finds a statement in the mail, explaining that his father was to inherit $60,000. The money, changes everything. Alex’s boyfriend Dean comes to Martyn with blackmail: a tape of Alex and Martyn’s conversation about what to do with his dead father and the money he had received. Martyn is not willing to so easily part with a chance at what he sees as a new life. He decides to play detective at this point and gathers Dean’s DNA from fallen hairs and a cigarette butt in an attempt to blame him for the death of Dean’s father.

Martyn and Alex hide his father’s death from his Aunty Jean and then wrap him up and sink him to the bottom of a pit of water. Alex sneaks into Dean’s apartment to steal the copies Dean might have made of his blackmail tape while Martyn explains to him that he has been framed for Martyn’s father’s death. Martyn now waits for Alex to decide what they will do with the money, and where they will escape to.

Alex never comes back to see Martyn. Investigators show up at Martyn’s door and he concocts a story explaining how Dean wanted to kill him in an attempt to explain why evidence to Dean’s death was found in his house. Martyn realizes now that he has been used. His father’s checkbook and bank card are gone. Alex and her mom ran off and stole the money. Martyn is left with nothing. He goes to live with his aunt who come to find out, is an alcoholic just like his dad had been.

Life seems like a meaningless mess in this story. Martyn seeks control and order over the events in his life through a rather horrific experience. Like Martyn, there are times when we all must search for the meaning of life, for the answer to reality, and the key to sane survival. This book takes a very deep look at the thought process of an individual hurt so deep that he seems to be lost forever. This book would be a good read for middle or high school students who need someone to relate to their personal situation. Martyn is very alone and although saddening at times, he comes to understand himself better than many of us ever will. - KP