This book is being talked about as one of the biggest books of next year, indeed it is sure to be one of Penguin’s (more specifically Viking’s) biggest debuts of 2016. The author, Nicholas Searle, was a Senior Civil Servant for many years before turning his hand to fiction and writing a novel that is so sharp and clever that it was unlike anything I’d ever read before.
I was lucky enough to receive a proof copy of this novel during my work experience with Penguin, and knowing that it was set to be one of the biggest novels of 2016 and published in January, I made it my priority to read it on holiday.
I finished the novel as the plane hit the tarmac in Santorini, and was so enraptured and captivated by its ending that I was reading the final pages whilst holding onto my best friend’s hand as she was terrified by landing.
It’s hard to describe the true beauty of the novel whilst keeping it spoiler free, because that which makes it so incredible are the twists that keep twisting. Reading this novel was like stepping into a Tower-of-Terror style rollercoaster: slow to begin, a slow build, before hurtling through twists, turns and unstoppable page-turning moments.
It begins with conman Roy Courtnay who is about to pull off his final steal, robbing an old woman, Betty, of her life savings by inserting himself into her life.
Interweaved with the present-day events of Roy and Betty, Searle offers glimpses of Roy’s past life, his life encounters and misdeeds, which offers insight but not true clarity into Roy’s character, until the final third of the novel, which completely flips the perspective and shoots the reader into a whirlwind of truths, clarity and earth-shattering revelations.
On the proof copy I received, one line of the blurb reads: This book will lie to you.
Indeed, the final conclusion leaves you with a taste of doubt and deception and pure thrill at what you have read, assumed and believed. Like those that Roy deceived during his lifetime, I too felt deceived by Searle, but was oh-so pleased to have been.
He is a master of deception, thrills and unforeseen twists, which make this novel a classic and a winning debut for an author.
It is an extremely satisfying read, and as a reader, I felt privileged to have read this before others, just so that I could recommend it to many other readers. I would definitely recommend it, and advise you to stick with it and persevere. Despite its slow build, the thrilling conclusion makes each turn of the crank to send the Tower up (or each chapter of Roy’s life) worth reading.
Again, this was an incredibly difficult novel to review without giving anything away and it has become so hard to express the pleasure and fulfilment I felt after reading, that I feel like I’ve been reduced to saying: ‘Just read it. Just read it.’
So that’s my only advice really: Just read it. When this novel comes out in early 2016, you will want to rave about it, just as I am, and when you do, pingback to this review and let me know what you thought! If this review intrigues you, comment below!