Most Helpful First | Newest First
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling,
I normally review a book the same night i finish reading it, so this book is new for me in 2 ways, 1) its way way outside my comfort zone 2) i waited a week before reviewing it.
I was talked into reading this book by some very nice, well read and clever ladies…. that alone would normally scare me off, but they were batting 2 for 2 on recommends so i had to give in. They had told me the book was “chilling” and “disturbing”. So Initially i was a bit worried that i didn’t find it affected me that way. I found it intriguing and thought provoking. I found it to be something that was so normal, and then so wrong, and yet so easily real that it may well be happening right now. It was then that the disturbing hit. We have a man, a normal everyday man, who has access to every house he has ever sold. Would you in his place with unfettered access to a strangers house, would you look, could you resist, and even more so, if you had access to the house of people you know, could you resist a peek?
The answer is Yes, but isn’t there just that little voice that yearns in us all to know, that little bit of uncertainty, the inner paranoid self that wants to know more…or maybe that’s me? Could you ever look is the question the book asks me. The answer thankfully is no. But the fact that it makes you ask this question and others is a testament to its clever powerful writing.
The weeks gap before writing this review has actually led me from this book being a clever read to its true impact, because in a week its not left me, i have had parts of the book jump back into my head at odd times, take over my dreams, generally disturb my thoughts, colour some of my views and question, Would I?
all of this has led me to the realisation that this book is truly a terrifyingly, creepy, disturbingly real tour de force, showing how trusting we can be with modern services and suppliers, people who we let in our lives and houses, and that’s before we even worry about digital entry. Read it and be afraid…bloody afraid.
Very highly recommended
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can a reader root for a creep...,
Can a reader root for a creep of a protagonist without being a creep themselves? I often ask myself this question, particularly when reading a book like Phil Hogan's new novel, "A Pleasure and a Calling".
Okay, William Heming, an estate agent in a small town, has both an odd past and an odd present. I suspect his future is even odder, but thanks god we're not privy to that in this book. Heming is cipher; he exists in the flesh but doesn't leave much of a mark in peoples' conscienceness. He owns an estate company and some other financial entities but has very little personal life, other than what he can glean from other peoples' daily existence. Heming has a nasty habit of keeping the keys to the houses he sells and has keys from 20 years back. (One question the reader MIGHT ask is why buyers don't immediately change the locks of their new houses upon moving in. I live in the US and I've never heard of not doing so, but maybe they don't in the UK???)So, William Heming can slip in and out of nearly every house in the village. And he's able to go through desks and drawers, finding out the residents deepest secrets, which he hoards in his own little mind. His world doesn't include others; his employees are just that, employees, and he discarded his own familial ties years and years before.
As I noted above, Heming's "past" was an odd combination of family tragedy and school-boy rejection. Mysterious incidents occurred when William was around; deaths of children most particularly. Nothing could ever be solidly attributed to William but his general creepiness turned off even the staunchest of would-be defenders. As an adult, mysterious death follows William as he gains financially in the real estate market, until one day the deaths become attributable to him. As a reader, I was both fascinated and repelled - equally - how he handled the problems he had gotten himself into.
Hogan's book isn't for the weak-at-heart. The murders are blatant and the police investigations just don't tie everything up. Can anyone get away with murder? Clearly, so. Can we root for the creep that's doing the murders? I've read the book and I still cannot decide.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite (creepily) delicious,
This is one of those stories which takes its time – not in the sense of dragging its heels, but more like a good meal which insists that you properly savour each course. And as the tale unwinds, it is a meal of many courses with a little more of the plot and back story being revealed each time …
At the beginning of the book we share estate agent William Heming’s sense of righteous indignation at the minor injustices he observes taking place around him. We even enjoy the justice he metes out to those deserving of it – even the somewhat excessive punishment received by one person, which is both ingenious and comic. But gradually William is revealed as being a rather different character than that implied at the onset. His sense of justice turns out to be somewhat skewed: he appears to morally amoral – or should that be afflicted by amoral morals? As matters progress and we discover more about William, we grow less comfortable and begin to perceive that he is less on the side of the angels than he thinks he is: nevertheless when he picks up that golf club it still succeeds in being a shock.
It’s a terrific bit of storytelling and by the end you are in two minds – will he be caught or not? And while a part of you wants him to be caught, another hopes he will escape justice himself, despite his cold blooded attitude to murder and general creepiness. It’s a book which you won’t forget in a hurry – but which will send you scampering to change your locks …
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasure and a Calling,
Rarely do you read a book which is totally original, creepy, delightfully and darkly funny and enjoyable from cover to cover. I am pleased to say that this is such a book. Estate agent William Heming lives in a leafy and prosperous community. He is successful, self employed and adept at reading people. However, Heming has a secret – he has the keys of every house he has sold and he is more familiar with his clients lives, and their properties, than you might expect...
When Heming has an altercation with a man in a park, he engineers a small revenge. However, when he becomes infatuated with the man’s girlfriend, events spiral out of control. This wonderful novel gradually unravels the life of William Heming from a small boy who hid in wardrobes, to a grown man who hides in the attics of his clients. A man you are unlikely to remember, who is adept at staying anonymous, but whose deepest, and darkest, desires are unleashed in the privacy of other people’s homes.
It is hard to review this book without giving away the plot and I have no wish to spoil the story. As we learn more about William Heming, we should dislike him – but that is hard to do. He is as unique as this book, which I suppose you could call a literary crime novel. This deserves to be a huge success and it has found its way into my favourite reads of the year without doubt.
I received a copy of the novel from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The keeper of the keys...,
William Heming has always been fascinated by the lives of the people around him. Some might call him a stalker, but he wouldn't call himself that. He just likes to find out all about people...without them knowing. So when he is given a job as an estate agent, what joy! The ability to poke and pry round other people's houses; and better yet, to be able to copy the keys of the houses so that he can pop back when the owners are out - or even when they're in...
Mr Heming (as he prefers to be called) is the most original creation I've come across in a long time. He is telling us his story in the first person and despite his increasingly outrageous behaviour the reader can't help developing a sneaking fondness for him, while being very, very glad that he's fictional! Although he got into trouble frequently as a child, he has now made an outwardly respectable life for himself as the owner of the small-town estate agency. He does have the strange little habit of sneaking into people's houses, making a nest for himself in their attics and listening to the goings-on below, but otherwise he's quite a decent chap really - always willing to secretly help a neighbour, even if by doing so he'll frighten them half to death.
And if he'd only stuck to this life, everything would have been fine. But one day, he accidentally gets actively involved in the life of the Sharp family and at the same time falls in love, and suddenly he's involved in a murder investigation that risks revealing his peculiar little habits to the world. This is the story of how Mr Heming sets about keeping his secrets safe...
This is a hugely entertaining read, both creepy and humorous. Twisty and turny all the way through, it kept me guessing right up to the end. As Mr Heming gets more and more involved in the police investigation we see him becoming ever more creative in trying to direct their attention elsewhere. There are distinct elements of farce here, with people whisking out of back doors as others come through the front etc., but it's all handled with huge skill and a lot of humour so that the reader ends up completely ambivalent about the awful Mr Heming - laughing along with his wicked sense of humour even while condemning his ever-more extreme behaviour. Guilt by association!
Very well-written, the characterisation is strong throughout, but Mr Heming himself is the key to this book - a wonderful creation. While the current story unfolds, we are taken back through his life to see what brought him to this point, but though he had a difficult childhood we get the distinct impression he was born this way, not made. And the worst thing is that it's all so chillingly possible...
Highly recommended...but I must dash! Got to get my locks changed!
NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Random House Transworld.
4.0 out of 5 stars a surprisingly good read.,
I wasn't expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. The things I'd read about it made it sound...odd...a strange storyline...not something I would usually read. but I did and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would highly recommend this book!
4.0 out of 5 stars Very clever,
Original plot taking a simple familiar experience of dealing with an estate agent and suggesting a nasty turn of events. Change your locks.
4.0 out of 5 stars Creepy,
This story is based on a very simple concept: what if your estate agent kept a copy of the keys to every house that he had sold through his agency? What if he used those keys to gain access and go through your personal effects? What if he was in the house while you were? Or just leaving via the back door as you came in the front?
Mr. Heming's "fetish" - if I can call it that for want of a better word - basically involves invasion of privacy. He likes to discover the minutiae of other pepole's lives, and perhaps leave his small mark somewhere in their house.
That's not to say he's a bad person - he tries to do good, and in some cases he succeeds. In one notable other case though, events begin to run away with him and it's looking like he might get caught, and other people might get hurt.
The book is compelling from start to finish. The reader is made to alternately sympathise and feel revulsion for our Mr. Heming - not an easy feat! I'd highly recommend it.
In fact, since I can't think of anything bad to say about it, I'm upping my review from 4 to 5 stars. I'd give 4.5 if possible, but in lieu of that I feel I can stand by a 5 star rating here.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant - what a page turner...,
I absolutely loved this book. At first I was wary of the first person narrative but needn't have been as it was written marvellously and with a depth so dark and detailed, you see how it had to be done this way and it was a genius move in this instance. Is the main character a complete nutter - or a champion of those undermined and a bit lost in this world? However our gentleman baddie is regarded, it was a compelling, and cleverly written piece.
4.0 out of 5 stars Very clever!,
A deliciously creepy novel, very clever, very different. As the blurb says, ‘William Heming's every pleasure is in his leafy community. He loves and knows every inch of it, feels nurtured by it, and would defend it - perhaps not with his life but if it came to it, with yours.’
William is a very complex character, who excels in being charming, yet invisible in order to worm his way into the lives of his estate agency’s clients. Worming being the operative word, as he literally worms his way into their attics and cupboards to revel in their lives as he watches them unobserved. But how far will he go to protect his way of life?
Most Helpful First | Newest First