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The Crooked House by Christobel Kent

The Crooked House

by Christobel Kent

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Thirteen years ago a tragedy occurred in the village of Saltleigh. A man took a shotgun and murdered his wife and their children before turning the gun on himself. Only the elder daughter Esme survived. Thirteen years later Alison is working in London, creating anonymity, hiding the secrets of her past. Then Alison's boyfriend insists that she accompanies him to the wedding of a former girlfriend in Saltleigh and the past and present are brought into conflict.

This is a really gripping tale. Alison is, of course, Esme and when she returns to Saltleigh all the ghosts of the past are resurrected. The multi-layered plot is completely believable, characters in a small town with secrets and issues, local justice and a mistrust of strangers and outsiders. In fact the only problem with the whole book is the identity of the real killer. It is flagged up subtly but the motivation and backstory is a little weak.

However that does not detract from the excellent writing and the sense of place and atmosphere. At the end of the day Esme/Alison is one of the community and the community looks after its own. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Jun 26, 2017 |
As (many) other readers have commented, the author has the maddening habit of switching between present and past events (some as recently in the past as 5 minutes ago) and not clarifying the time switches. Time frames were confused, and it was hard to determine when events actually had occurred. No clarification between switches in time. And why necessary to switch at all? Why not , when sketching a present tense event, just present it linearly? One moment Alison is in the police station talking to the policewoman, and the next she's in her car, and then we're flashing back to 5 MINUTES AGO when she was talking to the policewoman. WHY?? ( )
  ChayaLovesToRead | Feb 28, 2017 |
Enjoyable, atmospheric British novel. Even though I figured out the ending early, the writing kept me reading. ( )
  Iambookish | Dec 14, 2016 |
The first pages of this book introduce us to Esme. She's just returned from her friend's house and hid upstairs in her room so she doesn't have to talk to her parents. She wakes up with her hands over her ears to shut out the booms that reverberate through the walls of her home. We fast-forward thirteen years later where we meet Alison, who we soon realize is the adult Esme. Her boyfriend, Paul, wants her to go with him to the wedding of an old girlfriend. Alison is horrified to find out it is taking place in Saltleigh, the town where the murders occurred. She believes she might be safe to return since no one knows who she really is. Almost immediately it becomes obvious that things are not going to work out well. There are secrets and lies which are slowly uncovered, all leading up to a surprising conclusion. I really liked the dark and claustrophobic setting of the marshes. The story itself sounded like something I would enjoy. It did keep me guessing but the transition between the time periods was a little bewildering. The author's writing style seemed to meander too much for me. I like a nice straightforward psychological thriller and so I'm a bit disappointed. If you are looking for a slightly creepy story with a plot you need to pay extra attention to, I think you will enjoy this book. " ( )
  Olivermagnus | Jun 16, 2016 |
Book Description IN THE CHILLING TRADITION of Daphne du Maurier and with the acuity of Kate Atkinson comes an atmospheric psychological thriller about an isolated British village and the sinister abandoned house that holds the key to its most shameful secrets. Alison is as close to anonymous as you can get: she has no ties and no home, and her only anchors are her boyfriend and her small backroom job in publishing. Which is exactly how she wants it. Because once, Alison was a teenager named Esme who lived in a remote, dilapidated house by a bleak estuary with her parents and three siblings. One night something terrible happened in the family’s crooked house, leaving Alison the only survivor. In order to escape from the horror she witnessed, she moved away from the village, changed her name, and cut herself off from her past. But now her boyfriend has invited her to a wedding being held in her old hometown, which means returning there for the first time since that night. She decides that she’s never going to overcome the trauma of what happened to her without confronting it, so she accepts his invitation. But soon Alison realizes that the events of that night left their awful mark not just on her but on the entire village, and she begins to suspect that everyone there might somehow be implicated in her family’s murder. Christobel Kent’s The Crooked House is a haunting thriller about one woman’s search for the truth about her past through a closed community full of dark secrets.

My Review I enjoyed this book but it was a slow read and a bit confusing. Kent's writing was awkward and the book should have been edited better. The timeline kept switching and it was hard to figure out if you were in the present or the past. Kent used a lot of pronouns and the reader had to decipher who the author was referring too. I liked the plot and the setting was interesting. I enjoyed reading about the small community that was on the water and the crooked house. The characters were not too likable but that adds to the psychological thriller aspect. I would recommend this book but beware of the pitfalls mentioned above. ( )
  EadieB | Jun 1, 2016 |
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Book description
One fateful night. One unthinkable family tragedy. One survivor. This is Alison's story. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train and Apple Tree Yard, this stunning psychological thriller from the author of The Loving Husband follows one woman's search for the truth about her family history. Alison is as close to anonymous as she can get: with no ties and a backroom job, hers is a life lived under the radar. But once Alison was someone else: once she was Esme, a teenager whose bedroom sat at the top of a remote house on a bleak estuary. A girl whose family, if not happy, exactly, was no unhappier than anyone else's - or so she thought. Then one night violence was unleashed in the crooked house, in a nightmare that only Alison survived and from which she's been running ever since. Only when she falls for the charismatic Paul does Alison realise that to have any chance of happiness, she must return to her old life and face a closed community full of dark secrets. As she seeks to uncover the truth of what happened that terrible night, Alison begins to question everything she thought she knew. Is there anyone she can trust?
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