About a Son by David Whitehouse review – murder, and what comes after

The novelist worked from the diaries of a bereaved father to create this creative nonfiction account of the killing of 20-year-old Morgan Hehir

Most weeks, I’m in the habit of looking at a trial list that details the cases at the central criminal court. It’s called “What’s on at the Old Bailey”, as if it’s a section in a listings magazine. For a while, some years ago, nearly all the trials were terror-related, foiled Islamist bomb plots or hate crimes. Recently, however, as in all criminal courts across the land, the listings have returned to their single depressing theme: young men stabbing and killing other young men on Britain’s streets.

One of the most shocking details in David Whitehouse’s harrowing and sensitive account of one of those murders, of 20-year-old Morgan Hehir in Nuneaton in 2015, is the lack of surprise. When Colin Hehir, Morgan’s father, emerged from Warwick crown court the following year, having seen his son’s three killers convicted, he’d prepared a statement for the press, imagining a scrum of flashbulbs and TV cameras. On the court steps, however, there were no media to greet him, no one at all to deliver his statement to. It seemed yet another stabbing was no longer news.

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