Review: The Heights by Louise Candlish

 

Title: The Heights

Author: Louise Candlish

Published: 2nd June 2021, Simon & Schuster

Status: Read June 2021 courtesy Simon & Schuster Australia 

++++++

 

My Thoughts:

 

The Heights is a slow-burn psychological thriller exploring obsession, vengeance and justice from Louise Candlish.

Ellen Saint is stunned when, from a clients window, she sees a familiar figure on the roof terrace of a neighbouring building. It should be impossible, the man who broke her heart is dead. She knows this, because she is the one who killed him.

Presented in four parts, parts one and three are a first person account from Ellen Saint, taken from her to-be-published manuscript. Ellen paints herself as a happy wife to Justin, and adoring mother of 12 year-old daughter Freya, and her 17 year-old son from her previous relationship, Lucas. Lucas, a bright, responsible student, is in his final year at his private school when he is asked to mentor a new disadvantaged enrollee, Kieran Watts. Ellen’s introduction to Kieran leaves her feeling vaguely uncomfortable but that feeling soon turns to loathing as Lucas transforms into a rebellious, sullen teen more interested in partying than studying. It’s clear that this situation is not going to end well and Candlish skilfully builds and maintains the tension as the inevitable tragedy draws near.

Ellen may be a little high strung, but Candlish’s portrayal of her spiralling anxiety felt authentic to me. As a parent I could empathise with Ellen’s concern for her son, and her dislike of what she perceives to be the negative influence of Kieran. To be honest I once found myself in a similar circumstance, and I was at a loss as how to deal with it appropriately. I didn’t begrudge Ellen her fear, frustration or anger, especially given how the situation unfolded, even if I can’t condone her actions.

Parts two and four are presented from the third person viewpoint of Ellen’s ex partner, and Lucas’s father, Vic. Despite their separation, he and Ellen have remained close, and it’s Vic that Ellen turns to most often as Lucas’s behaviour worsens. Vic’s perspective of the situation is somewhat different to Ellen’s though, throwing some doubt on the veracity of her account. It’s a clever way to counter the established narrative, and surprise the reader with a few twists.

Carefully plotted, and with provocative characters, I found The Heights to be a gripping read, blurring the line between justice and vengeance.

++++++

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Review: The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish

 

Title: The Other Passenger

Author: Louise Candlish

Published: July 8th 2020, Simon & Schuster Au

Status: Read July 2020 courtesy Simon & Schuster

+++++++

My Thoughts:

“Like all commuter horror stories, mine begins in the mean light of early morning – or, at least, officially it does.”

When James Buckby disembarks from his riverboat commute to Central London, he is met by two police officers eager to question him about his missing friend, Kit Roper. The police, it transpires, are acting on information from another passenger who witnessed an argument between Jamie and Kit days earlier, and suspect foul play.

The story of Kit’s fate unfolds from the first perspective of Jamie, whose narrative may or may not be reliable, as he details how he and his partner, Clare, met and befriended Kit, and his wife Melia. Their friendship develops quickly but soon grows complicated, tainted with betrayal, envy and deception.

I expect I’ll be in the minority, but unfortunately I struggled to finish The Other Passenger. Though the plot, when it finally unravels, is surprising and clever, exactly what I expect from Candlish, I found the build up too slow and the characters largely so unappealing, I didn’t much care what happened to any of them.

You may feel otherwise, and I wouldn’t like to discourage anyone from picking this up. I truly admired the twists, but I can’t personally rate it as any more than okay.

++++++

Available from Simon & Schuster Australia

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Also by Louise Candlish reviewed at Book’d Out

Review: Those People by Louise Candlish

 

Title: Those People

Author: Louise Candlish

Published: June 27th 2019, Simon & Schuster UK

Status: Read May 2019, courtesy Simon & Schuster AU/Netgalley

+++++++

My Thoughts:

Lowland Way is a desirable suburban address in the south of London. The homes are well maintained, the gardens manicured, the school district is favoured, the street even closes to traffic on a Sunday to allow the children to play freely. So when Darren Booth, and his girlfriend Jodie, move into Number 1, the residents are shocked by the new neighbours disdain for the status quo. They are loud, uncouth, and crude, and everyone wants them gone, but is someone on Lowland Way willing to kill to accomplish it?

Taking place over a period of a few months, we learn immediately that someone is dead. The story moves back and forth between the events unfolding on the street, and statements taken by the police in the aftermath of the death. Curiosity should keep your attention through the first third of the novel, and though the pace lags a little in the middle, it picks up and wallops you with quite a twist when you least expect it.

What I most enjoyed about Those People was the way in which Candlish’s ‘respectable’ characters fall apart in the presence of this interloper. Their veneer of civility slips, bit by bit, as their frustration and outrage grows. Only a handful of neighbours are directly affected by Darren’s behaviour, and while they try to do the right thing to start with, lodging complaints with the police and council, bureaucracy moves slowly, too slowly for some.

Those People is a provocative psychosocial drama, which offers some interesting twists. I found it a quick and entertaining read.

++++++

Available from Simon & Schuster AU I Simon & Schuster UK I PenguinRandomHouse US

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 US Cover