The House Across the Street by Lesley Pearse

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The House Across the Street by Lesley Pearse

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Category: Crime
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Holly Lewtas
Reviewed by Holly Lewtas
Summary: Pearse exceeds all expectations in her latest novel that takes you to 1960s England, throwing together a mixture of crime, romance, family drama and constant suspense. Simply unputdownable.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: September 2018
Publisher: Michael Joseph
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0718189242

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Have you ever found yourself staring out the window slightly longer than needed to see what your neighbours are up to? This is a common occurrence for Katy Speed who regularly watches 'The House Across the Street' as a frequent stream of women are brought there in the same black hummer and seen leaving a short while later. Although slightly unusual, not much is said aside from your typical neighbourhood gossip, that is until Katy is woken up in the early hours one morning to find out that the same house has been burnt to the ground, along with the woman who lives there. This situation is made a whole lot worse for Katy when her father is arrested for starting the fire. What follows is an engrossing depiction of Katy's quest to prove her father's innocence whilst dealing with her unbearable mother and ultimately having the safety of many people's lives in her hands.

Lesley Pearse sets this novel in 1965 and does not deal with this without the utmost accuracy. I found it astounding to find that Pearse made sure each character sounded reminiscent of that time period, particularly in the vocabulary that she chooses. There is no doubt throughout that you are getting to know characters from another time. This is further shown through the ideals the characters hold, particularly when dealing with topics such as domestic violence and generational differences between those born before and after the war ended – as well as opinions on miniskirts!

Although as a reader you are thrown into a different period of time, you are reminded that it was not as different a time as it is today. There are many aspects of this novel that are relatable and add an underlying humour, particularly when it comes to Katy's mother's character whom is both comical and dreadfully intolerable. There is also your usual neighbourhood gossip that spans from one extreme to another. This adds another depth to the story and helps to show the skill with which Pearse writes.

The main theme of this book is suspense as you are constantly left guessing who started the fire and how it links to the mysterious visitors to the house. The reason I couldn't put this book down was because of this as you immediately start to develop your own theories that are then disproven, leaving you desperate to continue reading and find all the answers. It encompasses a variety of unexpected twists and turns that only get better as the book goes on.

Pearse has produced an enthralling novel that does not drop in quality at all throughout. You will be met with a book that makes you laugh, shed a tear and be left gobsmacked, all whilst having a glimpse into the lives of others, particularly young women, in the previous century - a phenomenal read.

If this novel doesn't give you your fill of suspense then I would recommend Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepherd which is also set some time ago.

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Buy The House Across the Street by Lesley Pearse at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The House Across the Street by Lesley Pearse at


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Diane Maddock said:

I am half way through this book and am not reading any more The theme revolves around the women who are evil mothers or step mothers / aunts ( ie women over 50) or Beatiful intelligent naive protagonists ( girls in their early 20's,)or victims. The men are cookie cutter strong protectors kindly loving parental types or brutes. Shallow transparent Rubbish! Throwing it in the bin waste of money.