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Summary

From the best-selling author of Our House, winner of the Crime & Thriller Book of the Year Award and now a major ITV drama starring Martin Compston and Tuppence Middleton, comes a nail-biting story of tragedy and revenge.

He thinks he’s safe up there. But he’ll never be safe from you.

The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among the warehouses of Shad Thames, its roof terrace so discreet you wouldn’t know it existed if you weren't standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that’s when you see a man up there - a man you’d recognize anywhere. He’s older now, and his appearance has subtly changed, but it’s definitely him.

Which makes no sense at all since you know he has been dead for more than two years. You know this for a fact.

Because you’re the one who killed him.

‘Kieran Watts has been dead for over two years when I see him standing on the roof of a building in Shad Thames....’

#CloseToTheEdge 

©2021 Louise Candlish (P)2021 Simon & Schuster UK

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An incredible letdown

I’ve really enjoyed Louise Candlish’s previous books for the most part, the odd minor quibble aside. But this was seriously disappointing.

I stuck with it but now wish I’d bowed out early on when I first began to realise that the characters were dull and two-dimensional, the plot ludicrous and the whole dual timeline, multi-narrator format tired and overused. The ‘Sunday Times’ article segments were tedious, cliched and unnecessary.

The whole plot revolves around a dreary middle class woman’s horror at her teenage son’s newfound friendship with a boy who has been passed through the social care system and now finds himself in a foster home. The main character’s, and seemingly the author’s, attitude towards this boy are nothing short of classist and play into all the worst aspects of middle-England panic. It reads like a Daily Mail reader’s manifesto, especially as all her worst fears and prejudices turn out to be absolutely right and this underprivileged boy is written as unequivocally evil. There is literally no other aspect to his character presented, other than that he is bad. And the only cause of his evil, as presented in the text, is that he is not from one of the nice, comfortable middle class homes that Candlish is so fond of writing about.

As is common in this genre, the plot soon descends into a series of unbelievable scenarios and characters saying, thinking and doing things that no real human being has ever said, thought or done. I’ll leave the big plot points unmentioned for anyone who would actually like to listen to this book. But one fairly insignificant yet nonetheless nonsensical part is when our main character, while holidaying with her family in Greece, genuinely worries that her son’s troublesome friend (who’s seventeen, in full time education, and lives with his foster mother in modest circumstances) might just hop on a plane unannounced, book himself into the resort and spoil their holiday. There’s a supposedly tense moment where she actually believes he is there, and then realises it was someone else.

There’s also a fair bit of right wing propaganda thrown in about tougher prison sentences, and lots of ‘it’s like a holiday camp in there’ style rhetoric, which again, goes unchallenged.

Even the foundational premise of story - the protagonist’s bright, high achieving, popular son being asked by his school to buddy up with a new boy from a challenging background - is portrayed as a dreadful idea; a failed socialist experiment that acts as the catalyst for all the terrible events that unfold.

Aside from the novel itself, by far the worst aspect is the awful narrator. The weird intonation (mostly all on the same dull level but with random stresses and emphasis thrown in at the most inappropriate places). Her constant mouth noises (ugh!) and audible breaths are only slightly more infuriating than the estuary accent she adopts for the protagonist, complete with glottal stops and dropped Hs, which is totally at odds with the character and her supposed background. The husband I think is supposed to hail from that part of the country known as ‘the North’, and his accent is predominantly ‘generic Yorkshire’ with a hint of Liverpudlian, Mancunian, West Midlands and, in more emotional moments, a dash of Glaswegian. He’s obviously had a varied upbringing and perhaps the story of his childhood would have been a more interesting tale than the one that this book chooses to focus on.

Special mention should go to the ridiculous ‘phone call’ voice filter that’s used every time a character speaks to someone on the phone. It’s extremely distracting, and bears no resemblance to what anyone’s voice sounds like in a real life phone call. And seeing as there were no other filters or sound effects applied for any other part of the recording, it just feels out of place and almost laughable every time it happens.

I’d anticipated the release of this audiobook, and really wanted to like it, but sadly it was a huge disappointment.

I’m hoping things improve in Louise Candlish’s next novel.

10 people found this helpful

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Crime and punishment

I enjoyed this more than the other reviewers seem to have done - yes, the main narrator assigns blame apparently largely as a reflection on Kieron’s class, and starts a Daily Mail style campaign, but why believe that’s the authorial voice we’re hearing? Don’t confuse author and character. My feelings for the character moved quickly and constantly between sympathy and loathing, and I think that was the author’s skill. And K *was* a nasty piece of work - not because of his class, but probably due to a personality disorder. If he’d been written as middle class and nasty, I doubt the author would have been criticised.
I liked the mix of narrators and times, which I thought were handled well.
My criticism is that the story felt about 20% too long. A mounting sense of dread can go off the boil if it’s spun out too far, and this was guilty of that sometimes. But on the whole, I’m glad to have read it and I look forward to seeing others’ reactions.

5 people found this helpful

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Absolutely exceptional

Louise is a superb writer / but this is superbly gripping the story is gripping but the narrator Genevieve Gaunt is exceptional.
More from you both please!

4 people found this helpful

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Dreadful boring yawn

Nothing gripped my interest here...the characters so dull...the story yawn. So disappointed as I for ordered this book ...I deleted it less than a third of the way in...so boring

3 people found this helpful

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Gripping!

After enjoying 'The Other Passenger' so much on Audible, I wondered if Louise Candlish's next book would be able to match it. However, I was not disappointed. This one was so addictive that I couldn't stop listening. The Narrators were all very good and allowed the characters to come to life. This audible really kept you guessing right till the end. It was not predictable at all.And even though the story content was tragic, there were still moments of mirth in the dynamics of Ellen's relationship with her ex. The setting for the plot, location wise ,was also a plus as it is a great part of London. I cannot wait until another book is written.

2 people found this helpful

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Satisfying Psychological thriller

I've been a hige fan of Louise Candlish ever since I read Our House, which is still my favourite by this author. But this book is also a great listen. It is paced perfectly and is so well plotted that it almost tied me in knots, keeping me guessing right till the end. The characters all flawed, but brilliantly drawn.

The setting is beautifully drawn and I could picture the Heights, and it's penthouse, in my mind. I don't have High Place Phenomenon (which I hadn't heard of) but I do have a fear of heights and so I really felt for Ellen.

2 people found this helpful

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Great narration adds to storytelling

Not my favourite Candlish but interesting plot. I realise just how important the narrators are in transporting you into the world of the book and bringing characters alive. Milo Twomy and Genevieve Gaunt are terrific at building the suspense and keeping me involved. Thanks.

2 people found this helpful

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  • jv
  • 07-09-21

Great listen and unusual indight.

Good narration and storyline. Great insight into grief and the two sides of a coin. I found myself switching between how I felt about the two parents. An unexpected ending. As mums we all know a Kiran.

2 people found this helpful

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New Heights

As ever even if you guess a few twists, Louise is always a couple more ahead of you! Gripping and very emotional, ignored the family for a week and immersed myself into the book. Only thing I don’t like is finishing. This will make another great series ! Next please…..

1 person found this helpful

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Disappointment

I was becoming a fan of Louise Candlish. The three books I already listened to were top-notch thrillers, unfortunately I really couldn't engage with this one.

It's structured as a story, within a story, within another story, also it jumps about in time - it was not always easy to follow the detail of what was going on. Perhaps trying to be too clever for it's own good.

The final nail in the coffin was the core story being about a middle-aged mother fussing over her good-for-nothing teenaged son. I really didn't care about either of them.

Well narrated by Genevieve Gaunt and Milo Twomey, though not well enough to save book as a whole.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 21-09-21

Absolutely Excellent

I loved this book, another great one from Louise Candlish. I did not see the last twist coming at all. Enjoyed the whole book and it is very well narrated.