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The Heights (2021)

by Louise Candlish

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
11716209,145 (3.64)6
FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF OUR HOUSE, WINNER OF THE CRIME & THRILLER BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD AND NOW A MAJOR ITV DRAMA STARRING MARTIN COMPSTON AND TUPPENCE MIDDLETON, COMES A NAIL-BITING STORY OF TRAGEDY AND REVENGE.   ''Impossible to resist, impossible to predict, impossible to put down . . .  this is an author at the top of her game'' Erin Kelly Up here, anything can happen. Even murder. . . The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among the warehouses of Tower Bridge, its roof terrace so discreet you wouldn''t know it existed if you weren''t standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that''s when you see a man up there - a man you''d recognize anywhere. He''s older now and his appearance has subtly changed, but it''s definitely him.  Which makes no sense at all since you know he has been dead for over two years.   You know this for a fact.   Because you''re the one who killed him.   #CloseToTheEdge ''The Heights has everything you could possibly wish for - tragedy, obsession, revenge and, yes, love. Another finely-crafted masterpiece from Louise Candlish'' BA Paris ''There''s nothing quite so chilling as the roar of mother tiger love. Louise Candlish had my heart in my throat. Dizzily dark. Dangerous. Deadly'' Jane Corry   ''No one creates middle-class characters we love to hate quite like Louise Candlish. I''d expected her to do this, and to provide a great sense of place, and twists that would have been rifling through the book to see how they''d been done. What I wasn''t expecting was that this thriller of obsessive revenge and intense parental grief would tug at my heartstrings. Smart, addictive, twisting, surprising. Highly recommended'' Sarah Vaughan ''Tense, provocative and devastatingly powerful. I loved Our House but I think The Heights might be even better'' TM Logan ''A beautifully written tale of destructive obsession and revenge, with Louise''s trademark killer twist'' Mark Edwards  ''It twists and it turns and it twists again. The Heights by Louise Candlish is the very definition of a "just one more chapter" novel. I devoured it. And it''s full of such great writing about the ferocity of maternal love'' Hannah Beckerman ''Compelling, unexpected and beautifully written'' Jane Fallon Praise for Louise Candlish: ''Louise Candlish is the queen of the sucker-punch twist'' Ruth Ware ''Louise is the mistress of the "Oh my God, this could be me" nightmare'' Fiona Barton ''The queen of the urban thriller returns'' Red ''Louise Candlish just gets better and better'' Lisa Jewell   ''Stylish, suspenseful and absorbing'' Best ''Psychological suspense at its most elegant and sinister'' AJ Finn ''You won''t want to put down this roller coaster read!'' Closer ''A gripping read with a brilliant first-person narrative. I couldn''t turn the pages fast enough. It''s so good!'' BA Paris   ''Not only is Candlish a terrific storyteller, she has the gift of making you care about unlikable characters'' Guardian ''A must read!'' Lucy Foley ​''Gripping from start to finish'' Bella ''I couldn''t put it down!'' Shari Lapena ''The layers of plot astound'' Sunday Times Crime Club ''An instant classic'' Mark Edwards  ''A chillingly addictive and glamorous thriller'' Sunday Post… (more)
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» See also 6 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Louise Candlish also writes a clever novel with twists that you don't see coming. In The Heights, grieving mother, Ellen Saint, is writing a story of the man who ruined her life. Kieran Watts becamde friends with her son Lucas. Ellen never cared for Kieran, and she holds Kieran responsible for Lucas's death. She has never forgiven him, and with Lucas's father, Vic, plots to kill Kieran.
So, when she sees Kieran, a bit disguised, living in The Heights, 2 years after his supposed death, she is shocked and dismayed. She believes Vic deceived her. She wants Kieran dead, and she plots to do it again.
What follows is a tale of what happens when hate overtakes your daily life. The ending will surprise you! ( )
  rmarcin | May 9, 2022 |
Louise Candlish uses a clever device to open this story. The reader is thrust into a creative writer’s workshop being described by a Times magazine writer. So, there is a writer describing the Uber writer who is leading the session and reading a chapter of one of his student’s work. Writer, writer, writer - get it? It is all about the writing.

Where do we start - with the setting, and then the characters, and then all the flaws and emotions, the rage, the hate and the never ending obsession. Unfortunately the hate and obsession overshadow everything and permeate every page of this very well written psychological tale. Lots to learn, much information is imparted; “high place phenomenon “, “Motiveless malignancy”. Anyway, the writing is superb, the vocabulary excellent, the story is strong and believable but the constant hammering on the hate and obsession diminished the sum total for me. I am giving high marks for the writing.

Thank you NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for a copy. ( )
  kimkimkim | Apr 21, 2022 |
This is I think the third book I've read by Louise Candlish. This one I did enjoy but The Other Passenger is my favourite so far. This story follows Ellen Saint and her family and what happens to their son Lucas.

This story is a typical thriller. It has the build up of tension and a few twists along the way. Again being a thriller there is a lot that is perhaps unbelievable but can be got away with in a fictional world. Not saying it hasn't happened in real life and is certainly possible. From a mother's point of view I can certainly see where Ellen is coming from and could well do have the same thoughts but doubt very much I would act on them.

I did enjoy the book overall but it didn't quite wow me and I did feel st times it became predictable especially the ending. I would certainly read more by the author in the future. Her books are very easy to read and have a lot going for them. ( )
  tina1969 | Apr 6, 2022 |
Bestselling author Louise Candlish's latest novel, The Heights, is a book within a book, as well as a family drama. The protagonist, Ellen Saint, is a participant in a writing seminar, drafting a memoir. As the chapters of Ellen's story unfold, they are interspersed with excerpts about it from a feature in the Sunday Times, the reporter's commentary adding interesting color to the tale.

Ellen suffers from "high place phenomenon," a common form of vertigo that causes people to experience an irrational urge to jump from high places such as bridges, rooftops or balconies. It does not mean that the individual is suicidal, but is, rather an intrusive thought and form of mild anxiety, as well as autonomy. As the story opens, Ellen is meeting with a client when she looks out a window and recognizes Kieran Watts standing on the roof of an adjacent tall building called The Heights. She is convinced she is looking at Kieran and equally convinced that the man cannot be Kieran. She knows Kieran is dead because she killed him. He was a monster who ruined her life.

In her first=person narrative, Ellen takes readers back to 2012, relating how she gave birth to her son, Lucas, when she was quite young. She and his father, Vic, broke up when she later fell in love with Justin, her husband, with whom she shares fourteen-year-old daughter Freya. Theirs is a modern family, with Vic living a fifteen-minute walk away. He has dreamed for years of starting a craft beer company, and continues making pitches in hopes of finally inking a deal.

Lucas is sixteen years old -- a strong student with good enough grades to attend a university of his choice, handsome, and well-liked. Ellen loves him boundlessly and is a fiercely protective mother. Foxwell Academy assigns him to serve as a buddy to a "vulnerable new classmate," the aforementioned Kieran, who resides with his foster mother in a different neighborhood but scored well enough on placement examinations to be enrolled in the exclusive school. Ellen describes having heard tales with "a daredevil theme" about Kieran before she met him, which evoked images of a handsome, athletic boy. Instead, upon meeting him, she sums him up as "short and fleshy, with deep red hair that he had a habit of tugging at and skin bumpy with acne." Her immediate reaction to him is visceral, noting that he looks at her with a "death glare . . . so deadly, so chilling, I actually shivered . . . " Ellen is taken aback by her own response to meeting the boy. She knows that Kieran, who lacks any social graces, has had a difficult childhood and she should be gracious in her assessment of him, but despite her self-awareness, she cannot control herself. She is convinced that he is trouble. Will her instr instinctual reaction be accurate? And how reliable is Ellen's recitation of the facts?

Indeed, Lucas falls under Kieran's influence, despite his parents' attempts to prevent it. Kieran has no interest in college or the future at all, for that matter. He is interested only in taking drugs and partying, and Ellen experiences a mother's worst nightmare. She loses all power of persuasion over Lucas who begins using drugs, lets his grades slip, and jeopardizes his admission to college.

Ellen's fixation on Kieran becomes increasingly pronounced as Lucas grows distant and defiant. Both Vic and Justin love Ellen in their own ways and have, over the years, developed mechanisms to copy with Ellen's anxieties and neuroses. They have found that confronting her with facts and logic is counterproductive so, rather, they appear to be supportive of her machinations. In Vic's sardonic first-person narrative, he details the ways in which he manages Ellen, noting that he probably should have drafted a "how to" guide for Justin. Although they are also concerned about Lucas, neither of them are as alarmed by his friendship with Kieran as Ellen is, which she finds utterly exasperating. Justin chastises her for characterizing Kieran as "evil," put off by what he deems to be histrionic behavior on Ellen's part. He believes that Kieran makes Lucas and his friends laugh and poses no real danger to any of them. "What is it going to take for you to start believing me? When something really bad happens, will you believe me then?" Ellen demands.

And, of course, something really bad happens. When the worst kind of tragedy befalls Ellen and her family, Ellen neither believes that Kieran's version of events is truthful or that justice is served. She wants vengeance, which propels her obsession with Kieran to a reckless new level and she convinces Vic that they must take matters into their own hands. He agrees and they devise a plan that she believes -- but never independently verifies -- is executed successfully, which empowers her to carry on with life, focused on Freya, Justin, and her career as an interior lighting designer. Until, that is, until her fateful sighting of Kieran on that rooftop that launches her on a manic search for the truth. It's a lonely journey, because no one believes her when she insists that he is, in fact, alive.

Candlish's plot is intricately-crafted, inventive and suspenseful. Ellen demonstrates just how far she will go to hold Kieran accountable for his misdeeds, but is she willing to put everything on the line a second time if, in fact, she is right about him being the man on the rooftop? And what is he doing there? Does he actually live in that tony building? How can he afford to do so? Who is the mysterious man who warns her to stop seeking answers and what is his interest in the matter? And how do Vic's actions figure into the mystery?

As always, Candlish's characters are intriguingly multi-layered and fully developed. Vic and Justin are believable as the men who have loved Ellen for years, accepting her as a high-strung, protective, but unquestionably devoted mother. They have always tolerated what they perceive as her quirks. They fail to share Ellen's extreme concern about Kieran's potential impact upon Lucas and their family until it is too late.

Maternal instinct is a powerful, driving, and often unerring force in a mother's life. Candlish deftly portrays the dichotomy between the men's reactions to Kieran's influence over Lucas . . . and Ellen's. She also credibly depicts Ellen's outrage at having her feelings dismissed and being viewed as bordering on hysteria. She believes her instinctual responses justify her actions, and she will not be pacified until she knows the full truth, no matter the cost. Ellen's story will resonate with readers. Through it, Candlish examines grief, neurotic over-parenting, and the ways in which her obsession with Kieran and the aftermath of the tragedy impact young Freya and her relationship with her mother.

Candlish's deviously clever plot is full of unexpected betrayals and revelations, and shocking twists that propel the story forward at an accelerating pace until the very last page. Candlish inspires readers to contemplate what they would do if they found themselves in a situation like Ellen's -- how they would protect their child from harm if they were absolutely convinced that the child was making self-destructive choices and, should the unthinkable occur, the lengths to which they would go to extract retribution. The Heights is another riveting thriller from a master storyteller.

Thanks to Atria Publishing for a paperback and NetGalley for an electronic Advanced Reader's Copy of the book. ( )
  JHSColloquium | Mar 22, 2022 |
The Heights by Louise Candlish is a 2022 Atria publication.

The Heights is a tall apartment building in London- and from the terrace of this building, Ellen sees a man she knows for a fact is supposed to be dead. How can that be? Once it is determined that she wasn’t just imagining things- Ellen descends into a frenzy of obsession- determined to rid the world of a man she can’t allow to continue living on the same planet as herself…

This is one crazy story of revenge, hate, and obsession- a lethal combination- for sure. The story flips back and forth between the past and the present, catching us up on why Ellen despises Kieran Watts, and present day, as she begins to realize she’s been laboring under an illusion for a long while, and determined to end any designs Kieran may have to further disrupt or cause pain to Ellen or her family.

Well, my goodness! I don’t know what this says about me- but I liked this novel- a lot! I think I might have been under the impression this was a different type of revenge story when I started reading it, but I was way off base. It is a story of obsession, revenge, and hate- no doubt, but one is never sure who is trustworthy- if anyone is.

These characters not likeable, or at least I didn’t think they were, but Ellen is so unhinged she nearly overwhelms any chance the reader might have at objectivity. She becomes the villain- but is she the only one?

There are so many twists in this story, so many angles, it is hard to figure out who to believe. While I get that Ellen was not palatable for most people, she was an interesting character study.

This is a mesmerizing story, hard to put down, and doesn’t really fit into any specific mold- which is a good thing. The story does take its time to develop, but is well-crafted, executed, and thought-provoking.

I thought about these characters long after I turned the last page- marveling at the way their minds worked, and my own response to them.

Overall, this is a great brain twister that will toy with your emotions as well. The wrap up was both clever and satisfying!

4 stars ( )
  gpangel | Mar 12, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
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Louise Candlishprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gaunt, GenevieveNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF OUR HOUSE, WINNER OF THE CRIME & THRILLER BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD AND NOW A MAJOR ITV DRAMA STARRING MARTIN COMPSTON AND TUPPENCE MIDDLETON, COMES A NAIL-BITING STORY OF TRAGEDY AND REVENGE.   ''Impossible to resist, impossible to predict, impossible to put down . . .  this is an author at the top of her game'' Erin Kelly Up here, anything can happen. Even murder. . . The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among the warehouses of Tower Bridge, its roof terrace so discreet you wouldn''t know it existed if you weren''t standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that''s when you see a man up there - a man you''d recognize anywhere. He''s older now and his appearance has subtly changed, but it''s definitely him.  Which makes no sense at all since you know he has been dead for over two years.   You know this for a fact.   Because you''re the one who killed him.   #CloseToTheEdge ''The Heights has everything you could possibly wish for - tragedy, obsession, revenge and, yes, love. Another finely-crafted masterpiece from Louise Candlish'' BA Paris ''There''s nothing quite so chilling as the roar of mother tiger love. Louise Candlish had my heart in my throat. Dizzily dark. Dangerous. Deadly'' Jane Corry   ''No one creates middle-class characters we love to hate quite like Louise Candlish. I''d expected her to do this, and to provide a great sense of place, and twists that would have been rifling through the book to see how they''d been done. What I wasn''t expecting was that this thriller of obsessive revenge and intense parental grief would tug at my heartstrings. Smart, addictive, twisting, surprising. Highly recommended'' Sarah Vaughan ''Tense, provocative and devastatingly powerful. I loved Our House but I think The Heights might be even better'' TM Logan ''A beautifully written tale of destructive obsession and revenge, with Louise''s trademark killer twist'' Mark Edwards  ''It twists and it turns and it twists again. The Heights by Louise Candlish is the very definition of a "just one more chapter" novel. I devoured it. And it''s full of such great writing about the ferocity of maternal love'' Hannah Beckerman ''Compelling, unexpected and beautifully written'' Jane Fallon Praise for Louise Candlish: ''Louise Candlish is the queen of the sucker-punch twist'' Ruth Ware ''Louise is the mistress of the "Oh my God, this could be me" nightmare'' Fiona Barton ''The queen of the urban thriller returns'' Red ''Louise Candlish just gets better and better'' Lisa Jewell   ''Stylish, suspenseful and absorbing'' Best ''Psychological suspense at its most elegant and sinister'' AJ Finn ''You won''t want to put down this roller coaster read!'' Closer ''A gripping read with a brilliant first-person narrative. I couldn''t turn the pages fast enough. It''s so good!'' BA Paris   ''Not only is Candlish a terrific storyteller, she has the gift of making you care about unlikable characters'' Guardian ''A must read!'' Lucy Foley ​''Gripping from start to finish'' Bella ''I couldn''t put it down!'' Shari Lapena ''The layers of plot astound'' Sunday Times Crime Club ''An instant classic'' Mark Edwards  ''A chillingly addictive and glamorous thriller'' Sunday Post

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