Every time I see Louise Candlish has a new book out, I dance a little dance. Why? Because in the crowded psychological thriller arena she takes a sideways look at modern life to create tales that are on the edge of credulity, and yet, so believable when they flow from her pen.
Such is the story told in Our House. If you read the synopsis you would doubt how realistic it is for a woman, mother of two boys, to return home unexpectedly one afternoon to find that her house has been sold and her possessions are nowhere to be seen. Really? I thought as my eyebrows shot up way past my hairline… that simply couldn’t happen, could it?
What makes this book particularly brilliant is the detailed plotting and the structure of the book. Fiona tells us her story via a podcast called The Victim where women, it is mainly women, explain how they’ve been duped, betrayed or hurt to an audience who comment along as the show unfolds. As I said, oh so modern and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that a variety of this idea is a real thing! Fiona takes us back to the time when she split up with her husband Bram through the last few months where they settled on a ‘birds nest’ arrangement for custody of the boys. And with my finger firmly on the pulse of modern life, I already knew this is where the children of a broken partnership stay put in their own home and the parents swap in and out like weather house men and women to care for them on designated days. At other times, when they were not in the house, Fiona and Bram stayed in a small rented flat. Oh so modern but you have to wonder how practical in real life…
Bram tells us his side of the same story, where we find out everything that Fiona doesn’t know, via a letter. This is a man tormented by his mistakes and trying to put things right. And despite all that he confesses to, Louise Candlish makes him quite a likeable man. I think this is key to the plotline retaining such a sense of realism and so despite my initial reservations I had no trouble believing the events that unfold.
Along with the two versions we are grounded in the present, Friday 13 January 2017 the day Fiona discovers her house has been sold and her estranged husband and sons are missing. It is the day that the remnants of Fiona’s life that she has been clinging to disintegrates.
Of course Fiona and Bram don’t live in isolation – their house after all is worth millions, in a sought after area which has risen in value. They have neighbours who try to do the right thing following the breakdown of the couple’s marriage, keeping the links in place, if weakened by the change in status quo. The author has a brilliant eye for the way people behave and so just as I so enjoyed her previous novels set in similar upwardly mobile settings, the characters her really do make the story come alive.
If you like your domestic noir to be something out of the ordinary you really must read Our House. The unbelievable is turned on its head, the characters so lifelike you will feel you know them well all in an undeniably up-to-date setting. A fully deserved five stars from Cleopatra Loves Books.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Simon & Schuster for providing me with an advance copy of Our House, this unbiased review is thanks to them and the author Louise Candlish for yet another gripping read!.
Reviews of other books by Louise Candlish