09.08 The Killing Jar

The Killing Jar by Nicola Monaghan
September 2008 Meeting

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  1. moirabbc

     /  October 5, 2008

    I found this readable and the local dialect added authenticity and credibility to the characters. The metaphor of the ‘sink estate’ with its rife drug use as a ‘killing jar’ worked well. It certainly is a toxic environment where human responsibility and morality cannot flourish.
    Kerrie-Ann arrives in a world where the only imperative is to meet her mother’s heroin addiction. We are meant to care about her and the writer tests the boundaries of our compassion with Kerrie-Ann’s increasingly shocking behaviour. The most shocking act overstepped this boundary and so did not seem believable to me.
    I could have digested or even comprehended this, if remorse had clearly been the motive for her escape from the estate rather than fear of Mark. This, however, would be too neat and life – especially a chaotic one – is never neat.

  2. richardbbc

     /  September 18, 2008

    After the meeting I thought about Michele’s comment that the author was not making any moral judgement about the character’s behaviour but simply trying to describe how such people would think and act. And I wondered if that was perhaps the case but Monaghan’s involvement with the characters meant she hadn’t succeeded. Truman Capote in ‘In Cold Blood’ dammingly described the inside of a murderer’s head without for one moment condoning, or condemning, him. Monaghan didn’t achieve that sense of distance and objectivity and so left the reader in a much more ambiguous position.

  3. michelebbc

     /  September 18, 2008

    The Killing Jar tells the story of Kerrie-Ann, the daughter of a heroin addict, growing up on a Nottingham council estate.

    Although the story is very bleak and depressing I found it extremely easy to read and couldn’t put it down till I’d finished it. It made me think alot about the nature v nurture debate, how much we are the product of our surroundings and how much influenced by treatment from others while growing up. There was a definite feeling that both Kerrie-Ann and her partner Mark could have turned out very differently in other circumstance, but that in the situation they were in they didn’t stand a chance.

    The book created some interesting debate in the meeting. I’d quite liked the way the Kerrie-Ann is relatively indifferent to some of the horrific things that she is involved in and that go on around her. I imagined a character who had gradually put up barriers to feelings in order to deal with her circumstances and also thought it worked well in leaving the reader to judge events. However Richard thought there was a disturbing lack of morality shown by the author. Others also thought characters where too stereotyped and that this wasn’t a true representation of the community.

    Parts of the story felt very familiar to me – having worked in a night club during the 90’s the scene’s of drug use by clubbers were well done.

    I also liked the way the ending showed a glimmer of the person Mark had been, the one who looked after Kerrie-Anns baby brother for her and protected her and not what we’d seen him turn into through his addiction.

    There is a very good review by someone who grew up in the area here:


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