My name is Simon. I’m 10 years old. I’m a serial killer. Robert Stern (Rupert Penry-Jones), a successful defense attorney, doesn’t know what lies in store for him when he agrees to meet a new client in a derelict estate on the outskirts of Berlin. Stern is more than surprised, when his old love interest and professional nurse Carina (Emilia Fox) presents him a ten year old boy as his new client: Simon (Jack Boulter), a terminally ill child, who is convinced he has murdered many men in a previous life.
Robert’s surprise turns into horror when he and Carina find human remains in a cellar the boy has led them to. The remains of a man whose head has been split with an axe 15 years ago – just like Simon claimed he had. Things go from bad to worse within hours when Stern discovers more dead bodies, the investigating police officer Engler (Andy Serkis) starts to chase him as a suspect in the murder cases, and his own past comes to haunt him. Stern’s friend and former criminal Andi Borchert (Stephen Marcus) is the only one to believe Stern and Carina. Hunted by the police, and led by Simon’s memories, they start to investigate shady sub cultures of Berlin, and soon discover things that are more gruesome than anything they could have imagined…
Narrated by: Rupert Penry-Jones, Jack Boulter, Emilia Fox, Stephen Marcus, Robert Glenister, Andy Serkis
This is a really good thriller. It’s psychological, suspenseful, and… yes, creepy. The performances are superb from everyone in the cast (and such an excellent cast!). Penry-Jones and Serkis were particular standouts for me. The sound effects are well-balanced, very rarely threatening to overwhelm the actors’ lines (there is a moment early on, in the rain, although that was actually kind of realistic), and there is one voice that is slightly scrambled (on purpose) which wasn’t always clear. I’m keeping this review very short because I don’t want to spoil any of the story — also, it’s out today, and I wanted it up in a timely manner. The story is not written with a breakneck pace — in fact, it’s quite a slow-burn. There are some genre tropes ticked off, but it doesn’t come across as a paint-by-numbers thriller. There are suggestions of something supernatural and/or otherworldly from early on, and it takes some time for things to be unveiled.
If you’re looking for something chilling to listen to in these cold(er) winter months, then I would absolutely recommend The Child.
An aside: I’m still not used to reviewing audio fiction, and I think I still prefer audio non-fiction. However, this story still managed to keep my attention and send the occasional chill up my spine. I’d certainly be interested in listening to more like it. (I think I’ll have to try Audible’s other new drama, Six Degrees of Assassination.)