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The Crooked House: A Novel
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Published:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2016
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Description

"A taut psychological thriller, loaded with mood, and a puzzle tricky enough to keep you guessing to the final page" —The Washington Post

In the chilling tradition of Daphne du Maurier and with the acuity of Kate Atkinson comes an atmospheric psychological thriller about an isolated British village and the sinister abandoned house that holds the key to its most shameful secrets.

Alison is as close to anonymous as you can get: she has no ties and no home, and her only anchors are her boyfriend and her small backroom job in publishing. Which is exactly how she wants it. Because once, Alison was a teenager named Esme who lived in a remote, dilapidated house by a bleak estuary with her parents and three siblings. One night something terrible happened in the family's crooked house, leaving Alison the only survivor. In order to escape from the horror she witnessed, she moved away from the village, changed her name, and cut herself off from her past.

But now her boyfriend has invited her to a wedding being held in her old hometown, which means returning there for the first time since that night. She decides that she's never going to overcome the trauma of what happened to her without confronting it, so she accepts his invitation. But soon Alison realizes that the events of that night left their awful mark not just on her but on the entire village, and she begins to suspect that everyone there might somehow be implicated in her family's murder.

Christobel Kent's The Crooked House is a haunting thriller about one woman's search for the truth about her past through a closed community full of dark secrets.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
01/12/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780374714475
ASIN:
B0105POP7I
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Christobel Kent. (2016). The Crooked House: A Novel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Christobel Kent. 2016. The Crooked House: A Novel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Christobel Kent, The Crooked House: A Novel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Christobel Kent. The Crooked House: A Novel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Updated:
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      • bioText: Christobel Kent was born in London and grew up in London and Essex, including a stint on the Essex coast on a Thames barge with three siblings and four step-siblings, before reading English at Cambridge. She has worked in publishing and TEFL teaching, and has lived in Modena, in northern Italy, and in Florence. She has written several novels set in Italy, including The Drowning River and A Murder in Tuscany, and lives in Cambridge with her husband and five children.
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fullDescription

"A taut psychological thriller, loaded with mood, and a puzzle tricky enough to keep you guessing to the final page" —The Washington Post

In the chilling tradition of Daphne du Maurier and with the acuity of Kate Atkinson comes an atmospheric psychological thriller about an isolated British village and the sinister abandoned house that holds the key to its most shameful secrets.

Alison is as close to anonymous as you can get: she has no ties and no home, and her only anchors are her boyfriend and her small backroom job in publishing. Which is exactly how she wants it. Because once, Alison was a teenager named Esme who lived in a remote, dilapidated house by a bleak estuary with her parents and three siblings. One night something terrible happened in the family's crooked house, leaving Alison the only survivor. In order to escape from the horror she witnessed, she moved away from the village, changed her name, and cut herself off from her past.

But now her boyfriend has invited her to a wedding being held in her old hometown, which means returning there for the first time since that night. She decides that she's never going to overcome the trauma of what happened to her without confronting it, so she accepts his invitation. But soon Alison realizes that the events of that night left their awful mark not just on her but on the entire village, and she begins to suspect that everyone there might somehow be implicated in her family's murder.

Christobel Kent's The Crooked House is a haunting thriller about one woman's search for the truth about her past through a closed community full of dark secrets.

reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        November 2, 2015
        In this haunting if flawed standalone from British author Kent (A Florentine Revenge), the former Esme Grace, now living in London under a new legal identity as Alison, is slowly building the semblance of a normal life. Somehow, she has managed to survive the slaughter of her family when she was 14 in the Essex village of Saltleigh—but now a promising romance forces her back to the village. Though awakening the traumatic memories she has struggled so long to repress is the last thing Alison wants, she fears that if she refuses to accompany her older lover, Paul Bartlett, to the wedding of Morgan Carter, his former flame, in Saltleigh, the relationship is doomed. Little does Alison realize that much graver dangers await, such as her discovery of evidence that casts a startling new light on her long-ago trauma. This psychological thriller falters down the homestretch under the weight of too many unbelievable plot twists, but until then this is a suspenseful ride with a gutsy heroine. Agent: Victoria Hobbs, A.M. Heath (U.K.).

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        October 1, 2015
        Thirteen years later, a young woman who survived the slaughter of her family returns to the scene of the crime. Her name was Esme, and she was nearly 14. She had a mum and a dad, 8-year-old twin sisters, and a big brother named Joe]until the night she went down from her bedroom and found them all shot with a rifle. Now her name is Alison. She works in accounting at a publishing house in London and has no family at all, except a father in an institution]a vegetable after the botched suicide attempt that followed the murders. Kent's (The Killing Room, 2015, etc.) latest psychological thriller opens as Alison's boyfriend, Paul, invites her to attend a wedding in her old hometown of Saltleigh. " 'The wedding's on Saturday but I thought we'd go a few days ahead of time. Tuesday, ' said Paul, his voice warm now, reassured. 'Make a, you know, a little holiday of it.' " It won't be much of a holiday, actually, as the many dark secrets of this "poxy little dump" of a village spill out and new crimes begin to pile up as soon as they arrive. Alison's tragedy was one of many: there was a baby who died in an electrical fire, a boy killed in a hit-and-run, a girl with leukemia, a pedophile, an assortment of drunks and suicides. As soon as Alison gets to town and her cover begins to crumble, she runs into her old best friend, the detective who investigated the case, and other townspeople who pop in to offer clues and accusations. Just about everyone knows things about Alison's family that she does not. Meanwhile, her boyfriend has a disturbingly close friendship with the bride-to-be. Bleak, suspenseful writing keeps the momentum high despite a surfeit of characters and contrivances.

        COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Starred review from October 1, 2015

        What's not to love about a chilling psychological thriller featuring a claustrophobic English seaside town, the heroine the sole survivor of a family massacre, and her intriguing relationship with an older, slightly dominating man? Comparisons to Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca are apt for Kent's ("Sandro Cellini" mysteries) most recent stand-alone novel. Alison (formerly Esme) lives quietly in London, connecting with few people and drawing little attention to herself, having changed her name after her family's murder a decade before. Her relationship with Paul is the longest she's had, in no small part because she asks him no questions about his personal life, and expects from him the same. When he invites her to a former girlfriend's wedding in her old hometown, she does her best to dodge the invitation but can't quite manage. The backstory is delivered piecemeal, and Alison's memories of the night her family was slaughtered by her father haunt the atmosphere, lending a fully satisfying air of menace. VERDICT Improbable, grim, disturbing fun--highly recommended for fans of the genre.--Victoria Caplinger, Durham, NC

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Published in the United Kingdom in 2015, Christobel Kent's The Crooked House has drawn comparisons to works by the pantheon of British female literary suspense writers—Daphne du Maurier, Agatha Christie, P. D. James, and Kate Atkinson. In this darkly atmospheric psychological thriller, she accomplishes what those celebrated writers do best: she creates an insular world (a single house, a small town) where something sinister has occurred, and subtly inflects each page with the toxic residue of violence.

Much like the unnamed narrator of Rebecca, Alison lives her life under the radar. She has no ties, no home, and she spends her days at a backroom publishing job. Which is how she wants it. Because Alison used to be a teenager named Esme, who lived in a dilapidated house by a bleak estuary with her parents and three siblings. One night, something unspeakable happened in the house, and Alison emerged the only survivor. In order to escape from the horror...

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