The Red House by Emily Winslow

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The Red House by Emily Winslow

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Multi-layered and intriguing, with a conclusion which stays just nicely on the right side of improbable. A good read which will stand a second reading.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 350 Date: February 2015
Publisher: Allison & Busby
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0749018955

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On the face of it, it seemed quite simple. It was just that as you started to unravel what had happened, what might happen, there seemed to be more skins that on an onion. Maxwell Gant had taken his fiancee to meet his mother. He and Imogen were hoping to move to Cambridge, where Maxwell had applied for a job with one of the college choirs. Imogen had an unusual history - she had been adopted when she was eight after the deaths of her parents in a car crash. She'd managed to trace her two elder brothers after the four children had been adopted by different families, but she was still looking for her younger brother, Sebastian, who was only three at the time of the accident.

It was one thing to be looking for your brother, but there was an added problem. Imogen needed to know that her boyfriends were not her brother and she had commissioned DNA testing for Maxwell before she allowed the relationship to become sexual, but even with this reassurance Maxwell becomes obsessed by the idea that Imogen is his blood sister.

Meanwhile, Detective Inspector Chloe Frohmann is heavily pregnant and not coping easily with the loss of DCI Morris Keene, who is struggling with a debilitating injury and what he feels is a loss of status. The sense of alienation from the police force becomes total when his daughter, Dora, is suspected of assisting someone to commit suicide. DI Frohmann has done her best to distance herself from the case - but she must distance herself, personally, from Morris too.

The story is thought-provoking and I found myself pondering on the nature of families: what is it that makes one: is it a blood relationship, or a shared upbringing? Or is it something rather more nebulous?

We first met DCI Keene in The Whole World, Emily Winslow's debut novel. I met - and was impressed by the Keene/Frohmann duo in The Start of Everything and was delighted when I was offered The Red House to review. Each of the stories has been told in Emily Winslow's trademark multiple first person narratives, which do work rather better than might be expected: Winslow has a talent for developing the distinctive voices of her characters. The plot is satisfyingly twisty and stays just the right side of relying a little bit too heavily on unlikely scenarios - but it certainly didn't stop me from staying up far too late to find out what had happened.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

For more Cambridge Crime we can recommend Cambridge Blue by Alison Bruce. If you enjoy police procedurals we've recently enjoyed Abattoir Blues by Peter Robinson and Sins of the Father by Graham Hurley.

Emily Winslow's Keene and Frohmann Novels in Chronological Order

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