The Heights by Louise Candlish
|The Heights by Louise Candlish|
|Reviewer: Zoe Morris|
|Summary: A story of hurt, of betrayal, and of revenge, this is an engaging read about the lengths a mother will go to, to avenge the death of her only son|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 448||Date: August 2021|
|Publisher: Simon and Schuster|
|External links: Author's website|
Ellen doesn't expect to see Kieran that day. She's on site, visiting a client for a lighting consultation when she spies him in a building across the way. There are lots of things, lots of people, you might see when you look out across London, but this isn't one Ellen expected that day or in fact any other day. Why? Because Kieran has been dead for over two years, and Ellen knows this for a fact, because she had a hand in his murder.
This isn't a case of mistaken identity, but it is a different sort of mystery. It doesn't take Ellen long to discover she's not seeing things, and Kieran is indeed alive and well, much to her disgust. Why the anger, you ask? Well Kieran was directly responsible for the death of Ellen's son, and in an eye-for-an-eye world, she doesn't see why he should survive and now thrive, when Lucas's life was cut so short, so quickly.
There is a lot of pain in this book, but there's also dismay, distrust, confusion and, more than once, betrayal. While present Ellen is in the here and now, trying furiously to work out what happened, or didn't happen, 2 years ago, we also tag along with past Ellen as she lives the years up to the accident (if we're going to call it that). We meet Vic, too, Lucas's dad and Ellen's ex, along with Justin, Lucas's step-dad and Ellen's current husband. Both men had good relationships with the boy, but in the aftermath, they went in different directions and a feeling that step-dads, no matter how good, are not the same as real dads emerges.
I really enjoyed this story and liked the descriptions of Ellen as a woman scorned, and ready for revenge. It was refreshing to see a mother in this role, with the fathers trying to reign her in a little. There's a fish out of water element at times which added to the entertainment – nice families don't often need to think about murder weapons or Albanian mobsters as part of their day to day – and you could sense how uncomfortable Ellen felt, even though he doggedly persisted.
This isn't a happy story, but it's not especially macabre either. It's quite simply matter of fact. Bad things can happen to good people, and this is the case here. The reactions seem authentic and measured, and you have to empathise with what the family are going through, especially after 2 years of closure. Kieran's reappearance is unwelcome and hurtful, and when people are in this much pain, they don't always act rationally. Add in Ellen's fear of Heights (or rather of falling or jumping from a height) and you have an extra dimension to consider, given where Kieran spends his days.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending us a copy. It's an excellent read with a good range of twists whenever you're starting to get comfortable. It's the sort of book I'd like to re-read, knowing now what I didn't at the start, to see what clever clues I can pick up on. We would also recommend another work by the author - The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish – which continues the theme of fears or phobias, but of a different kind.
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