4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The keeper of the keys...,
This review is from: A Pleasure and a Calling (Kindle Edition)
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.