“It’s a beautiful building, but there’s something rotten at its heart. Now he’s discovered it he can smell the stench of it everywhere.”
Benjamin Daniels – a Cambridge educated journalist is living in an elegant, historic apartment in Paris. He was invited to live there by and old university friend, Nick. Ben is sociable, charismatic, and inquisitive.
Jess – Ben’s 24 year old half-sister. Whilst Ben was adopted by a wealthy family, Jess wasn’t so lucky. She spent her formative years in the foster system. When she finds herself in a spot of bother in England, she travels to Paris to stay with Ben. Though he said he would be waiting for her, there is no one there when she arrives. Though his wallet, computer, cat, Vespa, and clothes are all in the apartment (when she breaks in), Ben has vanished. She asks around but no one will tell her anything. AND, they all seem secretive and sly… Are they all hiding something? Something just feels – wrong.
Sophie Meunier – is 50 years old and lives in the penthouse apartment. She is married to a very wealthy wine merchant. Her husband is away most of the time, and she finds herself lonely in the huge apartment with only her small dog for company.
Mimi – is in her late teens and shares her apartment with the flamboyant Camille. Mimi is quite mentally unstable, and quickly becomes besotted with the newcomer, Ben.
Nick – Ben’s former university friend, has had some financial setbacks due to unwise investing. He has returned home to Paris to get back on his feet.
Antoine – is forty years old and is a volatile and violent alcoholic who has just separated from his wife.
The Concierge – an apparently elderly woman who lives in a small building in the center of the apartment building’s courtyard. She has been working there for years and has become part of the woodwork of the place. Invisible to those who reside there, she goes about her duties in a furtive and sneaky manner. She pops up when the tenants least expect her to…
This novel drew me in right away. Imagine, sitting in your apartment and knowing that someone is entering, using a key – knowing that you haven’t given anyone a key…
From then on I was entirely invested in the outcome. Would Jess find Ben alive? What secrets were the residents so desperate to keep?
I tried to really like Jess, yet her light-fingered behavior, poking around into other people’s possessions, and her general impertinence lent her an air of insolence that I found unlikable. That being said, her personality was the driving mechanism of the novel, nothing much would have happened without her audacious actions. All the while the reader really knows that her behavior is mere bravado. Underneath she is floundering, insecure, and desperate for stability.
The various residents of the apartment building were well portrayed. Some were creepy, some suspect, and all were overly secretive. The vibe was the sort that you feel when you just know that someone is staring at you, yet you don’t know who, why, or where they are…
The ivy-festooned apartment building itself was very much a character in this novel. The cobble-stoned courtyard. The ‘cave’, the dark and smelly stone cellar where thousands of euros worth of wine was stored. The hidden staircase with the spy-holes to the various apartments. The creepy attic room, the ‘chambre de bonne‘. The building had a rich history as it was used by the Gestapo during the war.
Very much a ‘whodunit’, this is a novel that will be popular with readers. Rife with dark family secrets and corrupting family dysfunction, the ambiance, the characters, the plot, and the satisfactory ending all serve to make it an excellent thriller read. 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 Harper Collins UK via NetGalley. I was invited to join the blog tour for this novel by Anne Cater (Random Things Tours).
Published by Harper Collins UK – March 3, 2022
Lucy Foley is a No.1 Sunday Times bestselling author. Her contemporary murder mystery thrillers, The Hunting Party and The Guest List, have sold over a million copies worldwide and also hit the New York Times and Irish Times bestseller lists. The Guest List was a Waterstones Thriller of the Month selection, a Reese’s Book Club pick, it was chosen as one of The Times and Sunday Times Crime Books of the Year, and it won the Goodreads Choice Award for best mystery/thriller.
Lucy’s novels have been translated into multiple languages and her journalism has appeared in publications such as Sunday Times Style, Grazia, ES Magazine, Vogue US, Elle, Tatler and Marie Claire. Lucy lives in Brussels with her husband their baby son.