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Book DetailsISBN: 9781471183492
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Book Review: The Heights: The new edge-of-your-seat thriller from the #1 bestselling author of The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish - Reviewed by Sarah (05 Jun 2021)
The Heights is a compelling read, leaving the reader guessing right up to the final page. Louise Candlish cleverly uses both multiple perspectives and a shifting timeline to withhold critical information, keeping us constantly questioning what is real, what is supposition and where our sympathies should lie. The main narrative is occasionally punctuated with excerpts from a Sunday Times Magazine article by journalist Michaela Ross, a perspective that the reader is invited to accept as an objective commentary on the characters and events upon which the book focusses. Part 1 of the book is told in the form of a manuscript written by Ellen Saint, recovering from a tragedy suffered by her family, the precise nature of which is unclear until sometime later. As the story opens, Ellen, a lighting designer, is consulting with a client in Shad Thames when she's shocked to spot Kieran Watts, a one-time friend of her son Lucas, standing on a nearby roof terrace. Ellen had believed Kieran dead, and, as she shockingly confides, by her own hand - so how is he still alive two years later? We learn from Ellen's perspective of Lucas's burgeoning friendship with Kieran during his sixth form year, and Lucas's concurrent descent from high-achieving student to a recreational drug user exhibiting problematic behaviour and failing to live up to his own potential and his parents' expectations of him. A tragedy when Lucas is aged nineteen solidifies Ellen's hatred of Kieran, her blame for what has happened to Lucas focussed entirely on him. In Part 2, the perspective shifts to Lucas's father, Vic Gordon, Ellen's former partner. While the fundamental events remain constant, Vic's story leads us to begin questioning Ellen's perceptions and her actions towards Kieran. Part 3 takes us back to the story from Ellen's perspective, as events hurdle towards a dramatic present day (2019) denouement on Kieran's luxury penthouse terrace. I found The Heights an intelligent and engrossing psychological mystery. I sometimes find multi-perspective and/or shifting-timeframe novels difficult to follow, but Louise Candlish uses these mechanisms skilfully and effectively to build and maintain the tension in her narrative. Ellen is a character who draws the reader's sympathies, even as we begin to question her perceptions. In Candlish's hands, her emotional turmoil is palpable and her extreme behaviour at least understandable, if not necessarily condoned. Similarly, we genuinely feel for Vic, who's trying to manage Ellen's reactions in addition to dealing with his own experience of helplessness and loss. The supporting characters, in the shape of Ellen's husband Justin and their teenaged daughter Freya, are also well-developed as they play their own rolls in the unfolding drama. I have no hesitation in recommending The Heights to any and all readers who enjoy finely-crafted psychological thrillers and/or domestic dramas. My thanks to the author, Louise Candlish, publisher Simon & Schuster Australia and Simon & Schuster UK, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this title.
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