337 follows the life of Samuel Darte whose mother vanished when he was in his teens. It was his brother, Tom who found her wedding ring on the kitchen table along with the note.
While their father pays the price of his mother’s disappearance, Sam learns that his long-estranged Gramma is living out her last days in a nursing home nearby.
Keen to learn about what really happened that day and realising the importance of how little time there is, he visits her to finally get the truth.
Soon it’ll be too late and the family secrets will be lost forever. Reduced to ashes. But in a story like this, nothing is as it seems.
The last time 12 year old Samuel (Sam) saw his mother at a family picnic. The following day a note was found on the kitchen table with his mother’s wedding rings saying that she’d left. Fast forward 25 years and Sam still dreams of that family picnic and doesn’t know what happened to his mother. Sam still lives in the family home haunted by the memories of his mother even into adulthood. Sam’s only link to what happened to his mother may lie in a box he finds in the attic with papers relating to his mother’s disappearance. Could his dying grandmother be able to shed light on what happened?
What I liked about this book is that it was very honest and open account of what can happen to an individual when a significant part of their life is missing. It is raw look into the background and complexities of a fractured family. From the picture taken at the picnic, they look like the perfect family, but no one knows what happens behind closed doors and that is evident from the story as we learn more about Sam and his family. The story doesn’t try and sugar coat the fact that all families are different and has some sort of secret, which in some cases never see the light of day.
As a character Sam just seems like a normal every day guy, the kind of person that you would walk past in the street and not look at twice. This is what makes Sam’s story all the more compelling. The narrative feels at times like Sam is speaking directly to you which makes you more invested in his story and that’s why this is one book I couldn’t put down. Although this is a domestic thriller it’s slow paced, which isn’t a bad thing. This isn’t a story that can be rushed but it’s one that unfolds slowly as more layers are added by Sam and the characters around him.
I loved this book and this won’t be the last book I read by this author.
M Jonathan Lee is a nationally shortlisted author and mental health campaigner. His first novel The Radio was nationally shortlisted in the Novel Prize 2012. Since that time he has gone on to publish five further novels with ‘337’ being his sixth novel. Jonathan is a tireless campaigner for mental health awareness and writes his own column regularly for the Huffington Post. He has recently written for the Big Issue and spoken at length about his own personal struggle in the British national press on the BBC and Radio Talk Europe.
Endlessly fascinated by the human condition and what leads people to do the things they do to one another, Jonathan is obsessed with writing stories with twists where nothing is exactly how it first appears.
Another amazing feature of this book that adds to its uniqueness is the double-ended upside-down opening for this book and it is available in books ordered in hard copy from UK booksellers only.