House of the Hanged Paperback – 7 Jul 2011
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‘Mills has once again delivered an evocatively well-written and researched mystery which ticks all the suspense boxes’ Daily Mail
‘[A] mesmerising new novel … his best work in an already accomplished career’ Barry Forshaw, Independent
‘Mark Mills writes beautifully … very enjoyable’ Literary Review
‘An absorbing thriller and atmospheric plot twister’ Woman & Home
‘A sumptuously stylish mystery’ Easy Living
‘A riveting, creepy tale’ City A.M
'Outstandingly good … beautifully written, cleverly plotted and highly recommended' Literary Review on The Information Officer
'A forgotten corner of World War II rediscovered and expertly revealed to us. Fascinating and shrewdly compelling – Mark Mills does it again' William Boyd on The Information Officer
'A compelling, vividly rendered slow burn of a book which culminates in an electrifying climax' Guardian on The Information Officer
'An intriguing puzzle, elegantly written…a pleasure to read…beautifully captured' Sunday Telegraph on The Savage Garden
About the Author
Mark Mills graduated from Cambridge University in 1986. He has lived in both Italy and France, and has written for the screen. His first novel, The Whaleboat House, won the 2004 Crime Writers’ Association Award for Best Novel by a debut author. His second, The Savage Garden, received stunning reviews and was a No. 1 bestseller. His third, The Information Officer, was shortlisted for the 2009 CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award. He lives in Oxford with his wife and two children.
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Top Customer Reviews
On the surface, this is a gentle novel, set during a hot Riviera summer, with cocktail parties, dinners, tennis and dips in the sea. But this is the mid 1930s and almost everyone in the novel is in exile. Their host, Tom Nash, is in danger. As the second world war approaches, his past has caught up with him and everything is about to fall apart. But whom among his friends has tried to kill him and will try again?
The story mixes past and present as we learn clues to Tom's past as a British spy in Russia during the Revolution. Gradually we discover how he met his friends and their role in his life of secrets. Having escaped to the Riviera and a writer's life, he is entertained there by a community of British, American, Russian and German refugees. At the centre of the group is the delightful Lucy, possibly the love of Tom's life.
To say anything more would give away too much but the suspense of what might happen to Tom builds throughout the book and it is a page turner. On the surface all is calm and gentle but that is very much on the surface and it is an act.
Mark Mills writes beautifully, and the characters each have a life of their own. Tom and Lucy are particularly likeable. Since I read this, I have read Savage Garden, which I also enjoyed, although not as much as this.
This book is an excellent read, with a great cast of characters who all begin to be looked at differently by Tom, whose past comes crashing back to haunt him. You have Leonard, his poisonous wife Venetia and her daughter Lucy; Yevgeny and Fanya Martynov, Russian emigre artists and the visiting American, Walter; Tom's old friend Barnaby; Benoit and Chantal who helped Tom when he brought his home; Klaus and Ilse Straub, journalists fleeing Nazi Germany; Tom's girlfriend Helene and his old friends Beatriz and Margot, two elderly ladies who live locally. Everything is there to create an excellent atmospheric thriller - sinister Russians, the spectre of Nazi Germany and the great setting of the French Riviera in the 1930's.Read more ›
Another reviewer has mentioned that the book goes rather slowly until the denouement where it is wrapped up very quickly and I felt similarly. It was like drowsing along on a rather placid river and then suddenly plunging over rapids. I didn't feel the build-up was strong enough and as a result I felt a little cheated by the ending.
This book will not put me off reading more by Mark Mills, but I wouldn't recommend it particularly.
The book begins and ends well, its disparate elements satisfactorily coming together, but it flags badly in an extended middle, its central Country House Mystery plot being unable to sustain 400+ pages. To pad it out, the author slows his faltering pace still further with frequent flashbacks, dreams and backstories, some of them of little relevance. He also spends far too much time with his less-than-interesting supporting cast - mostly public school types wining, dining and frolicking in the Med sunshine. Mills is good at evoking the Riviera landscape, though the 1930s period doesn't really come across and the secondary characters, especially goody-two-shoes Lucy, are mostly irritating.
Builds to a good ending which leaves the door open to sequels and is generally readable enough, though not up to the level of his previous books.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I don't understand the few negative reviews as I think this book is as good as all of his others. Great characters and a brilliant plot - what else do you want? A real page-turner.Published on 21 Dec. 2013 by J & family
Mark Mills never fails to deliver. I've read several of his books and love the fact that they are all so well written, yet you do not feel he is writing to a formula.Published on 4 Dec. 2013 by Anon
I can't be alone in being cheesed off with books that have disjointed chapters where the reader has no idea what is going on. Read morePublished on 25 Aug. 2013 by Harsh Critic
Starts off quite calmly, a group of people are enjoying the hospitality of Tom Nash on the Riviera during a hot summer in the mid 1930s. Read morePublished on 28 July 2013 by Vixx H
Another cracker from Mills, loved the setting and the characters even though the plot was pretty dire and it was quite predictable, a great holiday read.Published on 18 July 2013 by P M Haisman
House of the hanged is likeable yet utterly generic. The hero, Tom Nash, is James Bond with a conscience and there's all the glamour, brutality and drama you might expect. Read morePublished on 20 May 2013 by Mr Blue Sky