The Good Son by You-Jeong Jeong


When Yu-jin wakes up covered in blood, and finds the body of his mother downstairs, he decides to hide the evidence and pursue the killer himself. 

Then young women start disappearing in his South Korean town. Who is he hunting? And why does the answer take him back to his brother and father who lost their lives many years ago.

The Good Son by You-jeong Jeong, translated by Chi-Young Kim, is the first of her books to be translated into English. You-jeong Jeong is a South Korean writer of psychological crime and thriller fiction. She is the author of four novels including Seven Years of Darkness, which was named one of the top ten crime novels of 2015 by the German newspaper Die Zeit.

My thoughts:

I thought that maybe I’d made a mistake in requesting The Good Son from NetGalley when I started reading it. And at 23% I was ready to abandon it – I was tired of reading about Yu-jin trying to get rid of all the blood in the apartment and on himself after he discovered his mother lying in a pool of blood – it was so repetitive and slow going. So I did something that I very rarely do and went to the end of the book to see if it was like that all the way through – and as it looked as though it wasn’t, I carried on reading.

This is a dark book, but although there is a lot of blood around at the start it isn’t actually a gory, blood and guts story. It’s a psychological did-he-do-it murder mystery. It’s tense and puzzling as Yu-jin tries to uncover what happened, at first unable to remember the events of the night before the murder. It’s written totally from Yu-jin’s perspective, so for most of the book it was as though I was reading his mind – and it’s a very strange, mixed up mind. He has difficulty with honesty and admits that he tells more lies than other people, which means that he can tell any kind of story in a believable way, and for a large part of this book I was willing to believe him, or to think the murder was all in his mind and that his mother wasn’t dead.

For years he had been taking pills which his mother told him were to control his epilepsy but he didn’t like the side effects so he had stopped taking them without telling his mother. Now he’s worried about having seizures and the blank spots in his memory are confusing him.  As more of his past life is revealed in flashbacks I began to revise my opinion of him and wondered if he could have killed his mother. When he was nine his father and older brother had died in tragic circumstances that are only revealed later on in the book and even then there are different versions of what actually happened. It’s an intricate plot and just as soon as I thought I could see where it was going I realised that I’d been hoodwinked.

The book is set in South Korea, mainly in Incheon, a city south of Seoul but the main focus is on this dysfunctional family and their relationships. I’m glad I didn’t give up on the book at 23% as after that point the story picked up pace and it held my interest to the end. But it is certainly a dark and unsettling character study of a psychopath.

My thanks to the publishers, Little, Brown Book Group, for my review copy via NetGalley.

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1126 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group (3 May 2018)
  • Source: Review copy
  • My Rating: 3*

6 thoughts on “The Good Son by You-Jeong Jeong

  1. Hmm….I must say, I’m not sure this one’s for me, Margaret. I’m not much of a one for psychopaths and a lot of blood. But your review is, as always, excellent. And I am intrigued by the setting, and by the slow reveal of character. Much to think about…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t read many books about psychopaths or with lots of blood either and as I said in my post I nearly abandoned it. But I realised I’d read most of the ‘bloody’ parts and because I wanted to know what happened I read on. Even now I’m not really sure what did happen – I think I know … certainly lots to think about!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ha! I fear I did abandon it at around about the 20% mark. I got so bored with all the descriptions of blood. I really thought one human body was only supposed to hold eight pints, but I swear there was a full-scale ocean in that apartment… 😉 Glad it picked up for you later!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, all the description of cleaning up the blood is so boring. And it was only my curiosity about what was actually going on that made me carry on reading. A strange book!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m still gazing at that cover. It’s incredibly creepy! I’m probably not going to try this one, though I don’t mind the blood so much. Just taking a step away from these types of books for the most part. And that cover…ewww! Ha!


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