To be fair, I’ve never heard of such a sinister house viewing! Frieda McFadden has done it again – her latest book is compelling tale with twist after shocking twist!
Newlyweds Tricia and Ethan arrive at house viewing during a blizzard. They find a key nearby and let themselves in to get warm. There’s no cell phone reception, so they can’t get hold of the real estate agent.
The house has a portrait on the wall of a famous psychotherapist and author Dr Adrienne Hale, so they come to the conclusion that it was her house. I say “was” because Dr Hale went missing 3 years ago and hasn’t been seen since. She is suspected to be dead, and more specifically, murdered.
The house seems lived in. There was a light in the window before they got in, and there’s fresh food in the kitchen. Tricia is nervous and on edge, but Ethan is strangely calm, saying there’s nothing to worry about and he genuinely wants to live in this house.
When they realize that they’re snowed in, they start to make themselves more at home, making sandwiches, taking showers, and bothering clothes.
And although they’ve seen no-one else there, Tricia hears noises, and notices that the portrait has been put up after it had been taken down, but Ethan tells her there’s nothing to worry about.
As Tricia explores the house, she discovers a secret room that’s filled with shelves of audio tapes, documenting her sessions with her patients.
While Ethan finds himself occupied, doing things like fetching his laptop and working, Tricia starts listening to the audio tapes.
Meanwhile, the novel flicks back and fore between Tricia and Ethan in the present day and Dr Hale several years ago. And this is interspersed with the audio tape transcripts.
As the novel progresses, the reader tries to put together what happened to Dr Hale. And there are striking parallels between Ethan’s circumstances and the transcript relating to the patient only labelled as EJ.
It also turns out that as angelic as Dr Hale was to the majority of her patients, she would go to great lengths to protect her reputation.
And then come some more twists, and the prose is compelling, drawing the reader in by continually presenting more and more mystery and intrigue. Just when you expect to have one thing explained, the story switches back to either past or present.
And despite my mind busily trying to guess how the rest of story was going to unfold, there were several twists that I really did not see coming and one big one in particular!
By the end of the book, there’s more than one dead body, and way more than one secret spilled.
In many ways, the book is also a love story. But the moral of this story, as you will discover right at the end in the epilogue, lies in the book’s title, “Never Lie”.
Book review from Cari Mayhew