It is every bit as creepy as the cover implies.
Mr Heming is a quiet realtor in a tiny English town. Many of his neighbors couldn’t tell you his name, if they noticed him at all. He goes about his business efficiently, under the radar. But he’s not your typical realtor.
Mr Heming makes copies of all the keys to all the properties he’s ever sold. And he uses them. He refuses to call himself a Peeping Tom. He doesn’t look in through windows — he watches you from inside your house. He lets himself in whenever it strikes his fancy.
Once he was out of the way I doubled back and let myself into the house again. I didn’t have much time and I didn’t know much about the couple who lived there, but I’d been round the house once with Cliff and knew which cupboards and drawers I needed to get into. …
Crossing the threshold of a strange house is like the opening line of a gripping story. At its best, penetrating deeper, it is like falling in love. ~Pg. 44-5
The book alternates between present day and Mr Heming’s childhood, bringing his skewed view of the world into finer focus. And as Mr Heming’s morals become greyer, the reader’s ability to trust his narration greys too.
I gained unlawful entry into Abigail’s life a few minutes after I saw her leave for work the morning after the business with Mr and Mrs Sharp, her damp hair from the shower. I was surprised that she had been out on her usual run. … I had no doubt that this time the key would fit, though I paused to enjoy a moment of calm before turning it. Then I closed the door behind me, shut my eyes and inhaled, holding that first taste in my nostrils. ~Pg. 172
And like any good first-person thriller, the reader begins to root for the ‘bad guy.’ It’s clear what he is doing is wrong but the reader has become invested in him and understands his psyche. He becomes sympathetic, understandable. But only because we know it’s not real. The final showdown is more than a little reminiscent of The Tell-Tale Heart.
A perfect shivery tale for the fireside this winter.
Many thanks to Andrea at Picador for the review copy.
Publisher: Picador (January 6, 2015)
Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches