The Farm; Tom Rob Smith
Grand Central Publishing - 2014
I’ve heard wonderful things about author Tom Rob Smith, but hadn’t read any of his work. His latest book, The Farm was picked up on my radar and I decided to give it a try.
In this story Daniel is a Londoner living a content life with his partner. His parents, Chris and Tilde have left London and retired to a rural farm in Sweden where Tilde grew up. The farm needs lots of work, but it’s what his parents wanted so he’s happy for them. One day Daniel gets a telephone call from his father Chris in Sweden saying ….
"Your mother's not well. She's been imagining things - terrible, terrible things. She's had a psychotic breakdown, and has been committed to a mental hospital."
Unsure what to think, when Daniel speaks to his mother, she says….
"I'm sure your father has spoken to you. Everything that man has told you is a lie. I'm not mad. I don't need a doctor. I need the police. I'm about to board a flight to London. Meet me at Heathrow."
Tilde claims that Chris is involved in a criminal conspiracy. She tells her son that because of this conspiracy, he wants her out of the way. What’s a son to believe, has his mother had a psychotic breakdown? He agrees to meet his mother, Tilde, at the airport and let her stay at his home.
So the unraveling of the mystery begins. Although Tilde seems to have done her homework, having evidence to prove what she believes to be the truth, as a reader I kept asking myself, is she a reliable narrator or is she overreacting? Just who should Daniel believe?
I initially started this book on audio, and while it started off very strong, there were lots of distractions and interruptions as Tilde tries to make her case by telling her story. I found the audio format too scattered. I switched to the eBook and was glad I did. This is an engaging story filled with suspense. Tilde’s recaps seemed believable, yet I still had my doubts about her reliability. The story did drag a bit in parts as Tilde attempts to get through her story, there were always phone calls or something to delay her from just “getting on with it”, all while son Daniel listens and questions her. Ultimately, Daniel needs to visit “the farm” and do his own investigation to decide for himself what is true and what may have been imagined.
It’s a great premise for a novel, and I think that this one felt like somewhat of a psychological thriller, even though there is not any real action. I guess you will have to read it for yourself and decide. For me, although not perfect, it is one of those books that I’ll be thinking about this one for a while.