Imagine returning to your home and discovering that it has been cleared of all your belongings… and someone else is moving in.
The intriguing opener to Louise Candlish’s riveting novel is just the first, mind-jolting twist in a serpentine tale that brings a dark and thrilling new edge to the whole concept of domestic noir, and then caps it all by delivering one of the best and most devastating last lines you will read this year.
Our House, which is Waterstones thriller of the month this September, centres on a luxury £2million-plus house nestling lucratively in a highly desirable corner of South London, and sees the talented author of a string of novels – including The Sudden Departure of the Frasers, optioned for TV – at the top of her game.
Using a fascinating, tension-packed narrative which alternates between a couple whose marital split has propelled them into a nightmare beyond their wildest imagining, Candlish weaves a brilliant and utterly gripping story of guilt, betrayal, secrets and breathtaking deception.
When Fi Lawson arrives home to find strangers moving into her house, she is plunged into terror and confusion. She and her husband Bram have owned their home in Trinity Avenue for years; they have lavished love and money on it, and have no intention of selling.
For Fi, her marriage, family and life have ‘always been about the house’ ... it ‘sheltered us and protected us, but it also defined us. It kept us current long after our expiry date.’
She and Bram are estranged now but have a modern co-parenting arrangement… a ‘bird’s nest custody’ in which each parent spends a few nights a week with their two sons at the prized family home to maintain stability for the children.
So how can this other family possibly think the house is theirs? Is it all a mistake, a prank , just ‘a joke on an epic scale’?
Worse is to come for Fi when she discovers that not only has her home been sold without her knowledge or permission, but Bram has disappeared and so have their children. In that instant, ‘her waking nightmare becomes something so terrifying that it has no name.’
Meanwhile, Bram has made a catastrophic mistake and now he is paying the price. Unable to see his wife, his children or his home, he has nothing left but to settle scores. As the nightmare takes grip, both Bram and Fi try to make sense of the events that led to a devastating crime.
What has he hidden from her, and what has she hidden from him? And will either survive the chilling truth… that there are far worse things you can lose than your house?
Our House is an impressively imaginative take on the new cult of property-porn thrillers, using the luxury London house as the central motif for an enthralling exploration of the price we might pay for over-investing, both emotionally and financially, in our homes.
As the truth is unearthed in a twisting, turning series of disturbing reveals, Candlish allows the tension to build and the air of growing menace to take hold, and keeps us hooked into a compelling domestic drama through enticing nuggets of literary bait.
Sharing fascinating insights into their stories through Fi’s regular podcast and Bram’s confessional Word document adds another complex layer to an already multi-faceted story which is powerful in its unsettling plausibility and yet manages to remain throughout an absorbing and ultimately jaw-dropping ‘car crash’ mystery.
Fresh, exciting and compulsively addictive…
(Simon & Schuster, paperback, £8.99)