The police were involved over the trouble. They had to be. 'I was just playing,' I told them, but that wasn't enough. They wanted to know what I understood by 'intent'.

Donald Bailey is sixteen. He can't forget the trouble that happened when he was eight, when the police were called. His mother can't forget either and even leaving their home town doesn't help. Then Donald befriends Jake, who is eight years old and terrifyingly vulnerable. As he tries to protect him, Donald fails to see the most obvious danger. And that the trouble might be closer than he thinks...

Following Robert Williams's prize-winning debut Luke and Jon, How the Trouble Started is a dark, gripping novel about childhood, morality and the loneliness of children and adults. Told with Robert Williams's characteristic warmth, humanity and deceptively light touch, it is a story about how our best and worst intentions can lead us astray, and the moments we can never leave behind.

An unnerving read which raises questions about innocence and culpability. Williams is undoubtedly a gifted writer.
— Guardian
This is a wonderful book, full of clear, precise language, the kind that makes you sigh because it’s such a joy to read … This is a stunning, emotionally charged book that handles its themes with skill and sensitivity. Highly recommended.
— Bookmunch
Williams is a master at writing about sensational subjects with an uneasy, queasy understatement.
— Metro

Shortlisted for the Portico Prize for Fiction