Article published on May 9, 2012.
Now you know is written in the words of Charlie, a character who is talking to Stephen Fry. Charlie is describing his friend, referred to as ‘M’, and the chain of events that lead to M’s death. M has had an enormous influence on Charlie. Charlie explains that, in the eyes of the public, M has been both a hero and a villain. He has been so involved in anonymously fighting crime and upholding justice through his own means that his actions have become infamous, yet no-one but Charlie knows the identity of the man responsible for them.
Charlie explains that M has suffered the loss of both his parents and his girlfriend, all of whom were brutally murdered on the same night. Throughout the novel, Christopher Chase Walker explores the idea of justice and revenge. Charlie is certain that M is responsible for the repeated rescues of other members of the community from vicious crimes and attacks. However, as the novel progresses, it becomes clear that whoever is acting the part of this hero is also angry and begins to hurt those who are initiating the attacks on others. Charlie believes that M is searching for those who killed his family, expecting to be faced with these people each time he stops an attack and confronts the attacker. The reader may begin to question whether these actions are fair. The attacks the criminals are responsible for are frequently brutal, resulting in death and mutilation. Is revenge, enacted by an onlooker, an acceptable form of justice? Of course, he is seen as a hero at first, for preventing crime taking place, but when he starts to implement his own justice system on the attackers, the public turn against him.
Further developing the dynamics of the novel, Walker uses Charlie, who is tagged and has previously been in trouble with the law, as narrator. The reader can relate to Charlie. His character is quirky and unusual in terms of circumstance. Through his character, we are reminded that some people simply make mistakes. Through Charlie, Walker also allows us to consider loyalty and forgiveness. Charlie is aware of M’s actions, yet continues to feel a connection with him. As Charlie is also the victim of a violent crime and we hear about his experience first-hand, we can empathise with him. Through the use of characters who are at once both victims and perpetrators of crime, Walker creates a novel that allows us to question our assumptions, empathise and accuse as we untangle our own thoughts on these subjects.
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