Cormier, Robert. The Rag and Bone Shop. New York: Laurel Leaf Books, 2001.
The last person to see Alicia Bartlett alive?
Except for the murderer, of course, Detective Lieutenant Braxton quickly added.
The Rag and Bone Shop is Robert Cormier's last novel, published posthumously. It centers around the murder of a 7-year-old girl, found battered to death not far from her house. The police have no leads, but local politics pressure them into finding the murderer...and fast. So they bring a "confessor," a man named Trent who is more concerned with getting confessions than finding the truth. The suspect? A boy named Jason, the last one to see the murdered girl.
If you think you can predict the ending of this novel, you're wrong. You may be able to predict the climax, sure, but not the ending. The best short story writers are able to make the whole story hinge on the last line. Robert Cormier does this with a novel. You can’t believe that what is happening is really happening, but it is. It’s impossible to stop reading. The psychological thrill is exhilarating. And yes, it's Robert Cormier, so it will leave you horrified at the inner workings of the human soul--or as he would say, "Down where all the ladders start/In the foul rag-and-bone-shop of the heart."