Fiona Lawson arrives at her London home to discover complete strangers in the process of moving in. They say they’ve just bought it from Fiona and her husband Bram – the estranged husband whose mobile is now out of service. And Fiona absolutely did not sell her home. This book starts out with a wallop and never stops – honestly, it’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion. I felt quite literally ill at times, just imagining the pain and heartbreak this family is going through as Bram tries to cover up his wrongdoings and finds himself in ever deeper trouble. The story opens in January with the house dispute, then jumps forward a couple of months as Fiona is telling her story via a podcast called The Victim. (Each episode ends with a couple of snippy comments – love it!) There’s also a word document from Bram, emailed from France just before he is to commit suicide. Thus the reader knows more than Fi does, a situation that frequently leads to confusion, but also adds a growing tension and sense of impending doom for the Lawson family, though this really is more about the couple than the family. Bram is a liar, a philanderer and, most importantly in this book, a terrible driver who ignores a driving ban because he can’t tell his wife the truth about anything. Neither Bram nor Fi is in the least bit sympathetic as characters, but the catastrophes befalling them are irresistible – just when you think it couldn’t get worse, it does. Right to the very last page. I am not kidding about the nausea. But I kept reading, driven by a kind of high-octane schadenfreude, I suppose. Reminiscent of Gone Girl, this is the latest bit of contemporary fiction best described as British middle-class chaos – The Girl on the Train, , for instance. I don’t know Candlish, though she is a well established British author; based on this, I’m not likely to look for any more of her work. The tension-building is awesome, but after it’s done I’m a bit ashamed of having devoured it, and wish I’d chosen something more wholesome. My thanks to Berkley Publishing for the advance reading copy provided digitally through NetGalley.
More discussion and reviews of this novel: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35924499