Welcome to the final day of the blog tour for The Companion by Lesley Thomson. My thanks to Sophie at Ransom PR for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Head of Zeus for my review copy.
About the Book
James Ritchie was looking forward to a boys’ day out with his son, Wilbur – even if he was a little late picking him up from the home of his ex-wife, Anna. Annoyed by his late arrival, and competing for their son’s attention, Anna leaves the two of them to their day with the promise of a roast dinner when Wilbur returns.
But Anna will never see her family again. That afternoon, James and Wilbur are found dead, the victims of a double stabbing on the beach.
DI Toni Kemp, of Sussex police, must unravel a case which has shocked the county to its core..What she discovers will lead her to Blacklock House, a grand country mansion, long ago converted into flats..Here in the middle of nowhere, where a peacock struts the lawn, and a fountain plays intermittently, seven long-term residents have seen more than they should.
But this is a community who are good at keeping secrets…
Format: Hardback (400 pages) Publisher: Aries
Publication date: 9th June 2022 Genre: Crime
Find The Companion on Goodreads
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In the Acknowledgments, Lesley Thomson writes that she loves to curl up with a country-house murder mystery and so, following her own advice to her creative writing students that they write the book they’d like to read themselves, she decided to write her own version of a country-house murder mystery.
The book features a diverse cast of characters to whom the reader is introduced in short order, much in the manner of the beginning of an Agatha Christie novel such as Death on the Nile or Murder on the Orient Express. Christie fans will take pleasure in spotting a few subtle references to her novels, such as the choice of Blacklock as the name of the mansion around which much of the action centres. There are also the tried and tested elements of a classic crime novel such as a gathering of all the suspects towards the end of the book (in the library, no less). Given Elly Griffiths’ cover quote describing the book as ‘like the best of Barbara Vine and Agatha Christie’, I also loved that one of the characters (whose first name is Barbara) has a cat named Rendell.
The police procedural elements of the book are very much of the here and now, as are some of the social issues explored in the book: the proliferation of social media, loneliness, drug dependency and the targeting of the elderly and vulnerable. You didn’t get characters in an Agatha Christie novel posting selfies on Facebook or possessing a burner phone!
When it comes to crafting the plot of a murder mystery the author knows her stuff, laying false trails, slipping in red herrings and generally leading readers up the garden path so that, like me, you’ll probably have suspected just about everyone of being the culprit by the end of the book – even Molly the owl. I wasn’t completely sure a killer who includes children amongst their victims quite fitted with the kind of crime you associate with an Agatha Christie novel, but then of course we’re in the present day, not the 1920s and 1930s.
The Companion is a neat homage to the classic country-house murder mystery but brought bang up to date.
In three words: Intriguing, clever, absorbing
Try something similar: Snow by John Banville
About the Author
Lesley Thomson grew up in West London. Her first novel, A Kind of Vanishing, won The People’s Book Prize in 2010. Her second novel, The Detective’s Daughter, was a #1 bestseller and the resulting series has sold over 850,000 copies. Lesley divides her time between Sussex and Gloucestershire. She lives with her partner and her dog.