A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan
|A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson
|Summary: William Heming is an estate agent like no other – at least let's hope so! Is he a model citizen or f-ing creep? You decide. One thing's for sure, Phil Logan has endowed him with the power to freak us out totally and something about the writing stops us looking away. Clever stuff!
|Date: February 2014
Estate agent William Heming has got it right. He owns a successful estate agency and yet isn't too noticeable. He's helpful, but not in a memorable way. A bit on the beige side perhaps but that’s just the way he likes it, living a life that assists society. Take the time he entered the home of the gentleman who refused to clear up his dog's leavings for instance. It's ok – Heming didn't break in. He already has the key as he once sold the house. How many of his former clients' keys has he actually kept, you wonder? The answer's easy: all of them.
Phil Hogan is a Yorkshireman, author, Observer TV critic and journalist and has written this, the only book I've ever read through my fingers over my eyes! Which reminds me – a note to new novelists: it's completely possible to freak your readers out till they feel mildly ill without gore or graphic violence. You only need to borrow the readers' own imaginations to push them towards the brink of turn-the-lights-on fear. I know this because this is what Phil accomplished and he seems rather good at it!
To begin with William tells us about his life and himself so that we see him as the sort of eccentric that Britain excels at. As he regales us with his stories, we smile and even giggle at the doggy doo episode, thinking that perhaps he shouldn't have done it but what the heck, good on him! (To think I was actually cheering him on!) He's a charmer and addressing us directly enables him to justify himself with beautifully worked out, almost choreographed, jaw-dropping logic so we begin by understanding even if not completely condoning.
Heming also has a compelling voice. He's not only interesting and different, I'm betting you won't be able to stop reading despite how the story unfolds as he reveals more and more about himself and his past. In fact we get in so deeply, it almost feels as though we're vicarious accessories. Accessories to what? Oh, you'll find out! I promise you'll finish with a totally different opinion of our hero to the one you started with though.
Actually as I type this I'm wondering whether Phil is being incredibly clever in not only how he's written this but the thought behind it. Could he be presenting us with a satire or allegory? We may balk at the idea of someone discovering facts about us with our door keys (even though there's so much more to Heming's story than this aspect). However on a daily basis we unthinkingly share so much more about ourselves online in places such as social media, utility websites etc. Although the consequences may not be the same, it's still personal information in a world where information is power, as Heming demonstrates.
Our first thought on finishing William Heming's story is to change our locks but maybe we should consider changing a lot more?
We'd like to thank Doubleday for providing us with a copy for review and reducing my chances of sleep for a while. (It was worth it!)
You can read more book reviews or buy A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan at Amazon.com.
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