Out of the Black by Robert Barnard

   The time is 1941. A small boy is standing on the platform at Yeasdon station in Gloucestershire, a little suitcase in his hand. Inside is a teddy Bear, a few bits of clothing, and not much more. Conspicuously  missing is any identification.
   He says he’s Simon Thorn, but the name appears n no list of evacuated children. Twenty-One children-plus Simon-have come from London to live with rural families far from the London bombing.
   But who is Simon and why do the officials have no record of him? They can’t send him back to London, so they put him up temporarily with Dot and Tom Cutheridge, a kindly couple who have always waned a child. and then the search begins.
   Simon says he lived on Sparrow Street with his mummy, grandma, and auntie. but when the officials visit Sparrow Street they find only three houses, one of them bombed out. And nobody named Thorn lives in the other two. There’s no report of a missing child, there’s no school record, nothing. It’s as if little Simon never existed before he arrived at Yeasdon station.
   Has he really forgotten who he is, or is he lying? The Cutheridges fear the truth whenthey hear him cry out in his sleep: ‘Stop it-please stop it. Don’t hit her! Don’t kill her!’
  Somewhere, either in his conscious or his subconscious, Simon hides a terrible secret. With consummate skill, Robert Barnard removes the shadows until we discover, with the adult Simon, the shocking Truth.
                                                                                ~from book jacket

This is my third Barnard book and I have to agree with Kelly over at Book Dirt that I like this one best!  The horror of the war and just the thought of sending your child off to live with strangers to protect them is unthinkable, but how Simon gets there is unbelievable. Simon grows up healthy and happy  and while in London for a new job happens past something that looks very familiar to him and sets him on a search for his roots and his ‘real’ family. This book is full of despicable people and I liked the little twist at the end. Read it, you’ll love Simon.

Peggy Ann

The Masters of the House by Robert Barnard

From the back cover:
‘In the late winter of 1979, Leeds housewife Ellen Heenan dies in childbirth-abandoning a guilt-stricken husband to insanity’s grasp and leaving four young children to fend for themselves. Thirteen year old Matthew and Annie, age twelve, know what the authorities will do if they learn of Father’s debilitating madness. A close knit family will be speedily unravelled, its threads scattered carelessly to the winds. So deception is the only recourse – a facade of normalcy that must be carefully constructed to fool prying neighborhood eyes. And resourceful young Matthew and his sister have the situation well in hand – until a freshly slain corpse turns up beneath the kitchen window…’
The beginning of this book was a little, I don’t know the word, hokey, I guess. I didn’t think I would even finish it. I’m glad I did though! Turned out to be a pretty decent read. A little unbelievable behavior now and then from kids but a nice little puzzle and view into human nature. 
Peggy Ann