Wonderfully written, from alternative viewpoints, House Rules tell the story of Emma Hunt, a mother of two boys - Jacob, 18, and Theo, 15. Jacob has Asperger's Syndrome, an illness which has many different elements, making it different in everyone, but often charactered by lack of empathy, detachment from the world, obsessive behaviour and violent outbursts. Emma dotes on Jacob, spending all she has on therapists, medication and food supplements. Theo, naturally, resents such unbalanced parenting.
One of Jacob's quirks is his interest in crime scene forensics - he watches true life forensic TV shows, reconstructs crime scenes at home and even turns up at real crime scenes, offering to help the detectives.
When someone Jacob knows if found dead, and it is revealed that the murder occurred shortly after and argument with Jacob, he falls into the spotlight. Subsequent forensic evidence points even more towards Jacob's guilt and he is held for questioning...
There are some pretty large plot holes, and the twist can be seen coming from a thousand yards, so as a thriller it doesn't really stack up. It also suffers for being overly similar to Picoult's My Sister's Keeper and Handle With Care - child with medical problems, jealous sibling, courtroom drama, check, check and check.
But as an engaging and well observed novel it hits the mark, and is an excellent study of a family under pressure combined with a fascinating insight into Asperger's Syndrome.