This is just a quick review of Lucie Whitehouse’s latest novel Keep You Close. It’s short because it’s more easily spoilt than other crime novels. It has a couple of really surprising twists and it would be sad to give them away.
The famous, rich young painter Marianne Glass is found dead in her garden. The police say that it was an accident. Her former best friend Rowan Winter doesn’t believe this. Marianne suffered from crippling vertigo and would never have gone this close to edge of the roof.
When Rowan hears of her former best friend’s death, she travels to Oxford and the home of the Glass family. Marianne’s house is a place where she once used to be a constant visitor. Rowan, who lost her mother as a young girl and whose father never had time for her, found a second family in her friend’s family. Coming back after all these years is intense, to say the least. Although the circumstances are dire, the Glass family, or what is left of them, are happy to see Rowan again and even ask her to house-sit for them. Rowan however has a hidden agenda. She’s the only one who cannot belive that Marianne’s death was an accident. Could it have been a suicide? She doesn’t think so, she thinks that something far more sinister has happened and wants to investigate Marianne’s death.
Early on we find out that Rowan and Marianne hadn’t been in contact for ten years because of something that happened back then. This was right about the same time Marianne’s father died in a car crash. The official version was that they had a falling out because Rowan intruded too much and didn’t let Marianne grieve. But the reader questions soon whether Rowan isn’t hiding something.
A lot of things are mysterious. Someone seems to watch the house at night. Someone else or maybe the same person tries to break in. A lot of people seem to gain, one way or the other, through Marianne’s death. Some even attack Rowan, saying that she’s profiting as well, since she was able to renew her friendship with the Glass’s and begins a relationship with Marianne’s brother.
Keep You Close is an entertaining book but not entirely convincing. I didn’t mind the slow pace as much as the implausibility of some of the twists. One was really surprising and well done, the others were over the top. All in all, it’s not a bad book, but not as good as some of her older novels. This is her fourth and I’ve read three of them so far. I liked both The House at Midnight and Before We Met better than this. If you’ve never read anything by Lucie Whitehouse, I’d suggest to start with one of her earlier novels. I read The House at Midnight before blogging, so you won’t find a review, but here’s my review of Before We Met.
17 thoughts on “Lucie Whitehouse: Keep You Close (2016)”
I have this one on the kindle, bought after reading Before We Met. It sounds although it was a good thing I read before We Met first as it’s hard to try a second novel by the same author if the first isn’t that successful.
Very hard. If this had by my first, I wouldn’t have picked another one. Ok, now I make it sound very bad . . . I don’t like it when they stretch believeabilty that much.
I’m not keen on books which stretch credulity too much either. I know most crime fiction has to have an element of that but the best writers know just when to stop.
I agree. But agents and publishers seem to push for this as well. It’s more about the hook and the twist than about believability.
It is too bad that some aspects of this were implausible, I find that believability is essential for me in a novel of this type.
It totally is. I would have liked to say more but didn’t want to spoil it – there’s also a manipulative twist that – let’s say, I’m still not sure about.
I guess I’ll start with The House at Midnight. Makes you wonder how much the publishers pressure writers into suspending reality to garner readers. I’m OK with a little incredulity, but not when I’m reading literary fiction.
I agree. I think they wanted to join the “Girl on a Train” – hype as that’s what it’s compared too. That had a few surprsing twists but they were believable. Not so Disclaimer, which is basically just a hook with a bag of air attached to it. That was very mean. 😦
When I see publishers hyping a book because it’s “just like” something I’ve read, I tend to look at it askance. Do they really think we’re that dumb? Evidently. 🙂
Wonder how the writers feel? Yes, they want sales, but to be pitched as basically derivative? Yikes.
I’m like you and if this hadn’t been an author I already knew, I wouldn’t have picked it up. But sometimes a good book comes with a bad pitch.
I do wish publishers would stop comparing new books to either Gone Girl or Girl on a Train! It makes you think there are not other stories out there, no other way to tell a really good story. I would rather be touted as a writer doing something unique! I have her first book, House at Midnight, which I think I must have bought when it first came out and really must pick it up-sounds like that is definitely the place to start with her work.
Yes, it’s tiring and in this case plain silly as it has absolutely nothing in common with The Girl on the Train.
I thought you’d read her THe Bed I Made. If you haven’t read The House at Midnight I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy it.
Wonderful review, Caroline! Lucy Whitehouse sounds like a wonderful crime fiction writer. I want to try this book but I will take your advice and try one of her earlier ones first.
Thank, Vishy. I’d try another one first. And if you really like it, then try this one too.
I’ve still got one of her stories I haven’t read yet.
Maybe The House at Midnight. Or Before We Met. So hard to decide! Both the titles are so captivating! Which one would you recommend?
Thye are very different. I though Before We Met was more suspenseful. The other is great on atmosphere. I guess that doesn’t make it easier. 🙂
Maybe I will start with Before We Met 🙂 Thanks!