The House by Simon Lelic – Review
By Sarah Morgan
How do you like your thrillers? Taut and full of danger? Lots of twists and turns? Plenty of nerve-jangling terror? If you’re salivating at the very thought, then The House by Simon Lelic is the book for you.
It’s Lelic’s fourth book; I haven’t read any of its predecessors, but I’m certainly intrigued enough to start tracking them down at my local bookshop (yes, some people still do that kind of thing).
The House is told from the point of view of its two central characters – Jack and Syd, a happy pair of co-habitors who, when we meet them, are in the process of buying their first property. Neither of them expect to seal the deal, and are surprised when they do. It all seems too good to be true, and of course, when things appear that way, they usually turn out to be so.
The tale is constructed in such a way that each narrator takes a chapter each, giving the reader an insight into their mindset as the events unfold. We eventually learn that Syd lives under an assumed name having run away from home to escape her abusive father. Jack, meanwhile, is a kindly soul who simply wants to do his best for everyone.
“Gasping for breath”
Into their lives comes a local girl, Elsie, who also has a terrifying patriarch. From then on, red herrings fly at the reader from every quarter, as Jack and Syd’s domestic bliss begins to crumble thanks to an unfortunate series of events masterminded by a person or persons unknown.
By the end, you’re left almost gasping for breath, and while the final denouement is, perhaps, a little too neat and tidy, it hardly matters – in this case, the journey is far more important than the destination.
Lelic keeps his prose simple and to the point, there’s nothing flowery or overblown here; it really does read as if it’s been written by two desperate and increasingly frustrated people.
While it will never be regarded as high literature, it’s entertainment in its purest form – in the days before Kindle and other readers, it’s what we would describe as a real page-turner. Now I guess it’d be termed a ‘real finger-swiper’!
There is one problem, however, and that’s the title. It’s shockingly generic and probably won’t attract readers who are casually browsing, hoping that something will catch their eye. A moniker with more impact would have been better, but hopefully it won’t stop Lelic’s tale reaching a wider audience.
‘The House’ by Simon Lelic is published by Viking