Friday, August 10, 2018

The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet

The House Swap is another entry into the psychological relationship thriller. It does, however, have quite a different twist on it; one where you just don't see it coming for quite some time. 

Told in two storylines: 2013 and 2015, you would think not much could happen in a few years. You'd be wrong, especially when it comes to the relationship between Caroline and Francis, a couple who's marriage has been slowly disintegrating due to Francis' addiction to pills, and the resulting affair Caroline has with a coworker. A mess, right? It's a bit sad to see what was once a solid relationship erode over time, and neither participant seems to know how to fix it. 

Move to 2015, and Caroline and Francis are house swapping for a week to get away and continue to repair their relationship. The house is oddly bare of any personal touches; it's neat as a pin and pretty much empty of anything-more like a hotel. Making arrangements only through email, the owner of this home is staying at Caroline and Francis' home for a week. Heck, people do this all the time!

Except this one is weird. Caroline's affair may be long over, but she's still haunted by it, and odd little things around the house jolt her into remembering key scenes from two years before. Of course she can't tell Francis, since their relationship is still fragile and this whole getaway was meant for them to spend time together. Is she just projecting, or are these little things: certain flowers in the bathroom; a photo of a park that Caroline visited during her affair--are these things a deliberate poke at Caroline? Amber, a woman across the street--seems oddly determined to get to know Caroline. Is her ex-lover the one she's swapped houses with?! Is he trying to drive her mad?

There's not a huge amount of action here; it's definitely one where a lot is spent on feeling, reflecting, and remembering. Caroline is a bit of a tortured soul, and you have no idea the depths until much farther along in the plot. The big reveal is something you won't see coming at all, because there's just not any way you could--a deliberate twist out of nowhere. Let's just say Caroline's instincts that something's not right, and someone is deliberately tormenting her, are spot on. But who you think it might be--well, that's the big surprise. Francis' thoughts are also a big part of the novel, as we see addiction from his point of view; the hopelessness, the aching, the need to just take the pill and make everything okay. We see how easy it is to slip down that slide, and how it can wreck a family. 

The cover of this novel has a quote from Lee Child, saying this is a "domestic noir".  Yes it is. It's a bit dark, and all you can do is hang on and hope Caroline and Francis come out the other side still together and with a better understanding of their relationship. It's a pretty good thriller! Wow, the depth and work the person bent on revenge goes to is pretty thorough.  

Rating:  4/6 for a very different thriller that slowly unravels and gives you tidbits along the way, keeping you guessing and biting your nails. 

Thank you to Pamela Dorman Books/Viking for an advanced copy of this novel!

Available in hardcover and ebook. 

1 comment :

  1. This seems right up my alley. I am gonna have to look deeper into this one, you have piqued my interest.

    Gayathri @ Elgee Writes