The House Next Door by MT Edvardsson unfolds from three points of view. As we’re introduced to them Edvardsson intersperses their narratives with police interviews as each are questioned about the deaths of a man and woman. Slowly over the course of opening chapters we meet most of the players and get a sense of where they fit into this puzzle.The House Next Door
by M.T. Edvardsson
Published by Pan Macmillan
Bill Olsson, recently widowed, is desperate to provide for his daughter, Sally. Struggling to pay rent, he welcomes a lodger into their home: Karla, a law student and aspiring judge, who works as a housekeeper to make ends meet. Her clients are the Rytters, an incredibly wealthy couple who hide behind closed doors. The wife is ill and hasn’t left the house in months. The husband is controlling and obsessive. Is he just a worried husband, concerned for his wife’s health? Or is there something more sinister at play?
As Bill’s situation becomes more dire, Karla is forced to make a difficult choice. And when the Rytters wind up dead, and Karla is pulled in for questioning, she’s made to defend some parts of her past she’d rather not revisit.
This is the second book (translated from Swedish) that I’ve read by Edvardsson. I enjoyed this read though wasn’t blown away by the whodunnit on offer. It’s not simple by any means and not necessarily predictable but I think it’s easy to see where each character is heading so perhaps it’s more in the style of an Agatha Christie murder mystery (involving an ultimate pointing-of-the finger) than an edge-of-your-seat thriller.
Some of the characters are more sympathetic than others and I found myself more drawn to Karla who’s grown up with an addict as a mother and had to fight for the life she’s longed for – now studying law and keen to become a judge. And then there’s Regina, an economist and wife of a handsome paediatrician. We learn though it was Regina who brought the money into the marriage and was reportedly healthy until recently struck by a mystery virus that now has her bed-ridden.
Bill should be likeable. In many ways he’s one of our main
hosts narrators, but though we’re able to sympathise about the death of his wife, loss of his job and admire his parenting of young Sally we soon learn he’s flawed in ways that are hard to ignore.
And finally there’s Jennica who’s struggling to find her purpose in life but now swept away by a new lover. She’s certainly not naive but perhaps (for that reason) frustrated me more than our other narrators, only redeeming herself late in the novel.
Edvardsson tells us how this ends so we know what’s coming which could have been anticlimactic but, despite not quivering in suspense, I didn’t mind the way things pan out.
The House Next Door by MT Edvardsson was published in Australia by PanMacmillan and is now available.
I received a copy of this from the publisher for review purposes.