Today I am sharing my thoughts on the brand new thriller from Gilly Macmillan, The Fall. My thanks to Isabelle Ralphs and Century for the advance copy of the book. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
Be careful what you wish for…
Nicole and Tom’s lives are changed overnight by a ten-million-pound lottery win.
Before they know it they’ve moved into a state-of-the-art Glass Barn conversion in the stunning grounds of Lancaut Manor in Gloucestershire.
But their dream quickly turns into a nightmare when Tom is found dead in the swimming pool, with a wound on his head.
Someone close to home must be responsible. But other than the young couple who live in the Manor, and their housekeeper in the Coach House next door, there’s no one around for miles.
Who among them is capable of murder?
I’ve only read a couple of books by Gilly Macmillan but I love the way in which she creates such twists and turns in her storytelling that, in spite of being absolutely sure you know where the plot is going to go, she still manages to lob in a bunch of curveballs to throw you off your stride. That was definitely the case with The Fall, a tale where nothing is as it first appears.
This is the story of Tom and Nicole, lottery winners who move to their custom designed dream home in Gloucestershire. Everything is absolutely perfect, until the day that Nicole arrives home to discover Tom floating face down in their pool. It’s clear that he is gone, that her return was too late to save him. But was his demise due to natural causes, a simple accident, or something a touch more sinister. Given the fact that the couple are worth a not insignificant fortune, the mind immediately turns towards evil doings. Well, that and the fact that this is a crime novel. It would be a bit unusual for this to be caused by simple domestic misadventure … But despite all appearances, there is something far darker going on around Lancaut Manor and with the couple’s neighbours, Olly, Sasha and housekeeper Kitty, just the way I like it.
I have to be honest, this book did not go where I expected it to at all. Okay, let me adjust that statement – it didn’t just go where I expected it to. It is relatively clear early on that this is no straightforward story and that Olly and Sasha are far from the sympathetic and caring neighbours they try to portray. There is a secondary thread to this book, one which goes to explain the way in which the couple came to be living in the manor house, one that will set you on edge and make you think all manner of things about the trustworthiness of anyone in the story, In fact, with the possible exception of Nicole, victim Tom (we assume) and police Detectives Hal Steen and Jen Walsh, it’s hard to trust anyone in this book. All seem to be nursing secrets and perhaps ulterior motives for helping Nicole, and there is no doubt about the root cause of the duplicity.
This is a pretty fast paced novel, the majority of the action taking place over a very short space of time, just a few days. But alongside the present day investigation we are treated to diary entries of a mysterious character we know little about which goes someway to explaining all that is going on. It left me more intrigued about the course of the story, wondering if it was as simple as it appeared. Throw in a couple of red herrings – certain characters and circumstances that may or may not have real relevance to what came to pass, and a setting that is a weird combination of the old and traditional manor house, and the modern and frustratingly unreliable new build that Tom and Nicole inhabit, and it really does add up to a suspense and sometimes unpredictable course of events that kept my attention to the very last page.
I can’t say I particularly liked any of the central characters much but the story was still compelling. Nicole was perhaps the most sympathetic, and sometimes a little pathetic to boot. Yes she’s suffered a loss but part of me wanted to shake her. As for the others, the lack of trust made them hard to like but the most interesting to read about, especially Kitty. Police Detectives Steen and Walsh were a good fit for the story, certain that something untoward had occurred, with Jen Walsh more certain than Steen that some of what they were being told was the real key to what was happening at Lancaut. It’s the mystery that drew me in more and a desire to see just how it would all play out.
As for the ending … Was justice served? Maybe, maybe not, but it sure did make me smile. Read the book and judge for yourself. It was, in the end, not quite what I was expecting but perhaps all the better for it. Recommended.
About the Author
Gilly Macmillan is the New York Times bestselling and Edgar-nominated author of What She Knew, The Perfect Girl, Odd Child Out, I Know You Know, The Nanny and To Tell You The Truth.
She grew up in Swindon and studied at Bristol University and The Courtauld Institute of Art in London. She has worked at The Burlington Magazine and the Hayward Gallery and has been a lecturer in photography.
She now writes full-time and lives in Bristol with her family.
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