The Seven Doors by Agnes Ravatn and Rosie Hedger (translator)
|The Seven Doors by Agnes Ravatn and Rosie Hedger (translator)|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: Our heroine has to try and keep her home life intact when her childhood home faces the bulldozers. But what of the woman she may have inadvertently evicted? Here the fact things are a little too guessable is not as much of a problem as is the norm.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 276||Date: September 2020|
|Publisher: Orenda Books|
Come here for a thriller that interestingly doesn't even try to suggest a genre of any kind until we're a full fifth of the way through. We start with our couple, she a literature lecturer, he big in medical provision and decisions at the council, being forced to move out of their home, a building that had existed throughout her life since childhood and which they'd occupied for over thirty years. The building he's inherited, meanwhile, and which they let out to a single mother, is needed by their adult daughter, who quite blatantly says to its occupant 'take a hike, I'm moving in and you're moving out'. Now, at this stage you may well, if you know this is a genre read, think it's going to be a throwback to those 'home invasion' thrillers Hollywood gave us in the 1980s, but no. We avoid genre completely, as I say – instead learning about Greek tragedy, in case that has any bearing on what happens here, and seeing how an older-middle aged couple live their lives. Until at that twenty per cent stage we find something that raises an eyebrow as any crime book should – until the point where the evicted tenant is found to have completely vanished.
This isn't a perfect read in translation to the English – there is a certain ferry trip that's taken several times, and might be someone's alibi, but we're not given the geography or time scale of the journey. It's not a perfect read in any language, really – the plot discussion concerning a trip to the opera that might inspire the book's title is far too heavily done. But it still is an interesting read. What we need to learn about the missing woman is brought to us very nicely, in a low-key fashion. Early on our heroine, the lecturer, put her foot in it at a public event, making news by declaring the opinion that literature graduates are only actually useful for the empathy they get reading novels, and so should be on the police books. Well, here she is, forced under the radar into her own kind of investigation.
The journey through that that she takes does seem a bit too simplified at times – she always finds what she needs, she always has someone to ask what it means or if it's true, and hurdles don't really present themselves in her way that often. However there is more than enough craft in the construction of this piece for it to be really quite readable. And even when I guessed the truth way before the end – a claim I can make for the last book from this publisher I read, too – it was still really quite readable to the final couple of short paragraphs. Delivered in many brief chapters, giving us nothing in the way anybody really looks, except where really relevant, this is a page-turning thriller (however it may begin) of no small satisfaction, and I'm grateful the publishers let me read it. A strong four stars.
The Seven Doors builds to a close around about Christmastime, which is when House of Correction by Nicci French has its beginning. You could do worse than try either for this coming, or any, festive season.
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