EXCERPT: The key slides smoothly into the padlock, and it clicks open. I remove it from the hasp and pull the door open. It sticks, the wood groaning as the door separates from the lintel, while the hinges screech as if in pain. I’m sure someone must have heard me. With a final look over my shoulder, I hang the open padlock back on the hasp and step inside, pulling the door closed behind me to avoid being seen.
The interior is almost pitch black. Whatever light there is has been filtered through the cobwebs and mold coating the inside of the tiny, smeary window. I take out my phone and switch on its torch.
The first thing I see is more cobwebs, and I’m temporarily paralyzed with fear as I clock the number of them, lying as thick as wads of cotton wool in the corners. My torch beam picks out a cluster of huge, fat spiders, motionless, as if they’re waiting to attack me. I know it’s ridiculous to be frightened of them, that they won’t hurt me. I tell myself that out loud and remind myself why I’m here: to find out what happened to Emily and Thea.
I sweep the beam around the edges of the space. It’s full of junk. I see big sacks of compost, plant pots, folded garden chairs and tools. None of it looks as though it’s been used in years, and part of me wonders if this is a wild goose chase, and whether Michael and Emily haven’t even set foot in this place the whole time they’ve lived here.
But I remember the shoe and the ring I discovered outside. And the brand new padlock that must have been put on the door for a reason. As I shine the beam down to the floor, I freeze. I think I’ve found that reason.
ABOUT ‘THE NEW HOME’: Freya loves her new home on a quiet suburban street. And her beautiful neighbour Emily is everything she’s ever wanted in a best friend. Finally, she has somebody to share her secrets with over a glass of wine. But as Freya watches her new friend setting the table for dinner one evening, she sees something shocking that makes her think that Emily’s life might not be as perfect as it seems. Days later, Emily and her daughter vanish…
When you meet Emily’s husband, you will think you know what he’s hiding.
You will ask yourself whether Emily and Freya really did meet by chance.
You will think you know what happened to Emily and her little girl the night they went missing.
But when you discover the truth, it will shake you to your core and you will lie awake at night wondering if you can ever really trust the people in the house next door…
MY THOUGHTS: The New Home is a suspenseful, slightly creepy mystery that had me flipping the pages. My suspicions flitted from one character to another to yet another. I just didn’t know who, if anyone, I could trust, including the narrator, Freya.
None of the characters are particularly likeable, except Cathy, Freya’s elderly next door neighbour who appears to be in the early stages of dementia. But in amongst her ramblings, there may just be a few grains of truth.
Freya herself tends to be obsessive, which is fine in her career as a documentary maker, but it can lead to problems in her day to day life. She’s a complex character. One moment my heart would be breaking for her, the next I would be wanting to tell her to get a grip. By the way, did you know that 62% of violence against women is committed by family members or partners. If you didn’t, you certainly will by the time you get to the end of this read. Freya produces this statistic regularly, almost like a mantra.
Freya’s partner, Jack, is an overworked cardiologist, but the clinical approach he uses in his work probably isn’t the best approach to take with his fiance at home. He loves Freya, and thinks he’s doing his best for her, even after he discovers the secret she’s been hiding from him.
Michael is the missing Emily’s husband, he’s not particularly sociable, and borders on rude a lot of the time. He comes across as aggressive and uncaring. He doesn’t seem particularly concerned about her whereabouts, and neither do the police.
Although I enjoyed this book, there were a couple of things I thought could have been done better. The author hasn’t spent much time or effort establishing the friendship between Freya and Emily. We are told by Emily that they were great friends, but I didn’t feel it. At one point I wondered if this friendship was a delusion on Freya’s part, which could be a deliberate ploy by the author. I certainly didn’t feel that the friendship was close enough to account for Freya’s reaction and subsequent actions after Emily and Thea going missing.
I also found the short chapters told from the point of view of an unknown person annoying. I don’t feel that they added any value to the reading experience. Each one was essentially the same, and eventually I began skipping them. I know that this is currently a popular trope, but I have found very few novels where it has actually worked as intended. It doesn’t work here, even after the final revelation.
Chris Merritt has written a good, suspenseful mystery; one that I enjoyed.
I: @cjmerritt81 #chrismerritt @bookouture
T: @DrCJMerritt @Bookouture
#contemporaryfiction #domesticdram #mentalhealth #mystery #suspense
THE AUTHOR: Hello! I’m a British author whose crime thrillers combine psychology, suspense, and characters you care about.
All my novels are set in London, where I live. My first trilogy starred Zac Boateng and Kat Jones, two detectives motivated by family, who tackle organised crime and police corruption. LAST WITNESS, the second Boateng and Jones book, reached #13 in the UK Kindle chart in 2019.
My second series features detective Dan Lockhart – an ex-soldier with a missing wife – and psychologist Dr Lexi Green, an American living in London. These novels are darker, more psychological serial-killer cases, with romantic relationships as a central theme.
I began writing fiction in 2014, after previous careers as a diplomat, based in Iraq and Jerusalem, and later as a psychologist working with victims and perpetrators of crime. I specialised in treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which sparked my interest in telling stories about how people cope when faced with extreme adversity.
Now, I spend most of my time writing novels and drinking coffee while ‘thinking’ about writing novels. When I’m not writing, I love climbing and playing basketball.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The New Home by Chris Merritt for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com
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