The Companion by Lesley Thomson
|The Companion by Lesley Thomson|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A cracker of a booK: great characterisation, an excellent plot and superb writing. What's not to love?|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 400||Date: June 2022|
|Publisher: Head of Zeus|
|External links: Author's website|
James Ritchie thought of himself as a punctual man who was inexplicably never on time and he was - as usual - late to pick up his son, Wilbur, for their 'boys' day out'. These were always days which appealed more to James than to Wilbur and, competing for the boy's attention, his mother, Anna, promised him a roast dinner when he returned. The dinner would never be served, as James and Wilbur are the victims of a double stabbing on the beach. The case falls to DI Toni Kemp of Sussex police. She's feeling the pressure. You can always tell - she shoplifts Snickers Bars when the going gets tough.
All the clues lead to Blacklock House, a rather grand mansion in the Sussex countryside which has been converted into seven apartments. There are eight residents plus a peacock which struts about the lawn - and the more you hear about the residents, the more you think that the peacock could well be the best of them. Timothy Mew (who likes to pretend that he's an aristocrat) has moved in as a companion to former barrister, Rex Lomax who has been lonely since the death of his wife in a car accident. Garry Haslam seems to know everyone's secrets - and makes use of them. Lady Dorothy Erskine (generally known as Bunty) is from the family who owned the house and she lives in a grace-and-favour flat. She is perennially short of money.
Martyn and Sylvia Burnett are retired doctors: rumour has it that Sylvia is still prescribing for her husband who is addicted to pain killers. Patrick Bell is unpleasant and obsessive in his pursuit of Martha Merry, a local hairdresser and you constantly wonder just how far he'll be prepared to go. Finally, there's Barbara Major, a researcher for a 'well-known crime writer', whose relentless observing of people comes perillously close to stalking. You might warm to Rex Lomax but there's none of the rest you'd want to spend time with. The characterisation is superb - even very minor characters stay in your mind. It's not just the residents of Blacklock House, either: it's the local community and the police who are investigating the cases. You'll feel that you really know these people.
The best part, though - is the plot. It is superb. I had just about everybody inked in as the serial killer but I still didn't get it right despite all the clues being there. It's a book to read once to find out who did it - and then to read again in a few months, to find out how the author did it. It's a real cracker of a book which I read far too quickly and I'd like to thank the publishers for letting Bookbag have a review copy.
For more from Lesley Thomson, try her superb Detective's Daughter series.
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