“Who’s There?” by Kerena Swan – Book Review

I’ll briefly introduce a few of the principal characters for you:

Arnold Eastwood – born with Downs Syndrome, he is trusting, vulnerable and in many ways an innocent. His favourite things to do are keeping things neat, watching Clint Eastwood films, and feeling independent. Oh, and hugs…. he loves hugs. He cannot read very well as has trouble telling the time. He loves his mother and sister very much, but wants to get out from their fussing over him. He fancies himself to be related to Clint Eastwood, and watches his films so often that he has them memorized. Arnold loves his new flat and even gets himself a job stocking shelves at the local corner store.  He is saving his money for a motorcycle clock.Lottie Eastwood – Arnold’s elder sister. She cares deeply for her learning disabled brother, but is a tad resentful of the fact that he is given a flat when what she covets most is a place of her own. Lottie has a boyfriend named Carl, who comes across as quite shady and fearful of commitment.

Saskia – a tragic young woman who lives in the flat next-door to Arnold’s. She suffers great guilt over the death of her young daughter and has turned to drugs to numb her pain. Arnold has a huge crush on her and fancies her his ‘girlfriend’.

Poker – a young man himself, he is a despicable drug dealer who grooms young teenagers and other vulnerable people to work for him. He will use any method to gain power over them to have them under his physical and emotional control. Based in London, he is trying to expand his drug empire in part by taking advantage of the weaknesses of others.

Chip – at a mere fourteen years of age, Chip is entirely under Poker’s control. With no one in the world to care for him, Poker at first treated him like family, being nice to him and buying him gifts. Now, he fears him, but can find no way to sever ties with this manipulative and criminal man.

Poker is a cuckoo.  He commandeers other people’s homes to use as a base to make and sell his drugs.  “Cuckooing” is a real thing.

Having read and enjoyed this author’s previous novel “Scared to Breathe“, I was in no doubt as to whether I would relish “Who’s There?“. I was in no way disappointed.

This was difficult to read at times because of the subject matter, yet I felt compelled to read on because the characters were so engaging and sympathetic. The tension was compounded by the fact that the protagonist was so vulnerable and innocent. This novel was unusual in that it portrayed the real ‘human’ viewpoint of some of the seedier aspects of modern society. Ordinary people getting caught up in criminal activity, through either coercion, desperation, manipulation, or all of these.

I was rooting the entire time for Arnold, who was a genuinely decent young man. Also, the characters of Chip and Saskia were ones who I came to care deeply for. The setting was well written and you could easily visualize the area. The plot had several ‘red-herrings’ which I admit I fell for…

The ending was everything I was wishing for. I’m sure that the author, in her social work career, didn’t often find such positive outcomes.

This is a crime thriller with heart. Recommended!

NOTE: This title is available via Kindle Unlimited for those who subscribe to this plan.

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from the author.

ISBN: 9781707843602  – ASIN: B081D5JWXG – 382 pages

Kerena Swan trained as a Social Worker and worked for Social Services for over 25 years. For the past 14 years she has owned and managed an ‘outstanding’ rated care agency for children with disabilities. Following serious illnesses she decided to fulfill her long-held ambition of writing a book and getting it published. ‘Dying to See You’, published by Bloodhound Books, was her debut novel.
After many years of writing professionally in the course of her work, Kerena has discovered the exhilaration and deep joy of writing fiction and can be found at all hours in front of her computer. Her second novel ‘Scared to Breathe’ was released on 3rd June 2019 by Bloodhound Books.
Kerena lives with her family in a small village in Bedfordshire, England and her books are set in the surrounding areas.
Drawing on her extensive knowledge and experience of the problematic world of social work and social studies, Kerena adds a unique angle to the domestic noir and crime genre. Her latest novel, “Who’s There?” is self-published.
Visit https://www.kerenaswan.com.uk and join her mailing list.

Follow Kerena Swan on Twitter.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
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14 Responses to “Who’s There?” by Kerena Swan – Book Review

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  6. great review and sounds like a very emotional read.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Kerry Swan says:

    Thank you so much for reviewing my novel, Lynne. I love the way you describe the characters, particularly Arnold, as I grew very fond of him when writing this. So much so that I’ve introduced Tommy, another man with Down’s Syndrome, in my next book. I love the pictures you’ve illustrated this with. They are so accurate.
    Kerena Swan

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was glad to get to your novel Kerena. I’m sorry it took me so long to read it, but I’m rather overwhelmed with review commitments (a count of 239 as of today).
      I’m pleased that you approved the graphics as I always put a lot of effort in finding just the right ones. I had to Photoshop the graffiti into the stairwell.
      I was fond of Arnold, but my heart broke for Chip as well.


  8. Carol says:

    This sounds so interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Fab review Lynne sounds like a good read!

    Liked by 1 person

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