Book review: Apartment 303 by Kelli Hawkins

Tuesday, March 7, 2023 Permalink

I received an advance copy of Apartment 303 by Kelli Hawkins as well as a final copy so I gave my mother the former to read before I got to it… and she read it very very quickly (within a day, while I was with her) and loved it.

I also very much enjoyed this novel and Hawkins does a great job at muddying the already-murky waters of Rory’s life with a misdirection or three. On one hand I kinda guessed who was up to some of the nefarious exploits (given they seemed to have an agenda of sorts), but I certainly didn’t guess why, or how they played out against other elements of the plot. Hawkins is able to keep threads completely hidden, revealing them just when we think we’ve got it worked out.

Book review: Apartment 303 by Kelli HawkinsApartment 303
by Kelli Hawkins
Published by HarperCollins Publishers Australia
on 08/03/2023
Source: Harper Collins
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 1460763327
Pages: 320

Twenty-six-year-old Rory rarely leaves her apartment, though her little dog Buster keeps her company. Days are spent working for her aunt's PI business, and watching and imagining histories for the homeless men, the Dossers, across the road. At night she walks Buster on the roof, gazes at the stars and wonders.

The night before New Year's Eve, one of the Dossers is murdered, an incident which brings the world - police, new neighbours, her dark past and new possibilities - crashing through Rory's front door.

But what I really loved about this book by Hawkins is how sympathetically she presents Rory’s character and her mental illness. There are some labels thrown about but we learn she doesn’t leave her apartment and takes her beloved dog to the rooftop of her apartment building to walk laps. How many laps depends on a range of factors… but always configured with some meaning, to Rory.

She thinks her compulsive behaviour is getting better until the murder of a homeless man across the street. And it’s then she believes she sees her father who disappeared over a decade before. As is often the case – it’s the bad (the murder and memories of her father and family) combined with the good (a  friendly 14 year old teenager who develops a delightful and supportive friendship with Rory as well as a new neighbour Simon) that push her out of her comfort zone and to the precipice of change: for better or worse.

I’m not particularly visual but Hawkins is able to describe the ‘glowing pylons’ of the Sydney Harbour bridge and the shadows the skyscrapers cast over the car-park turned tent city for homeless people opposite Rory’s apartment building. I also enjoyed the way Rory gives the men names (Skinny Santa, Slouchy Ricky Gervais) and backstories – imagining their once-different lives. Like her own, I guess.

As I mentioned, I’d kinda guessed at part of this, but it’s far more complex than I’d expected and I liked that Hawkins doesn’t offer us something too simplistic as it’s not always about good and evil. Sometimes it’s more ethically challenging when there’s no one person to blame, or when someone feels they’re doing the right thing, but it ultimately doesn’t turn out that way.

Apartment 303 by Kelli Hawkins was published in Australia by Harper Collins and is now available.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.


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