Tuesday, January 6, 2015

book review: A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan

The basics: Mr. Heming is real estate broker in a small village outside London. His past is somewhat mysterious, and he intentionally blends into every day life to help hide his secrets. The biggest: he keeps a key to every house he's ever sold, and he frequently uses them to visit the homes months and years later.

My thoughts: I picked up A Pleasure and a Calling from my virtual TBR without knowing much about it. And I spent the next twenty-four hours devouring it in its entirety. Mr. Heming is a delightful, albeit creepy narrator. I suppose I'd categorize this novel as a thriller, but Hogan develops the character of Mr. Heming so well that his creepiness is balanced by other attributes: "The truth was that rampant sexual relationships are all very fine and necessary, but, for me, real intimacy is elsewhere."

As a narrator, Mr. Heming is both reliable and unreliable. He shares intimate, and often unflattering, details about himself with the reader: "I am driven by nature, unable sometimes to distinguish wants from needs." Yet he also carefully withholds information, both about himself and in the order in which he chooses to tell this story, as he narrates from the future.

Favorite passage: "I recognized her immediately, though, again, I doubt that I'd have been able to place her if she'd walked into my office or if I'd seen her in a bar. And there was no way I could have described her to someone. But isn't that how memory works? Doesn't it all depend on context--recall and recognition not quite being the same thing?"

The verdict: A Pleasure and a Calling is a delightfully creepy thriller. It's thrills aren't cheap, as Mr. Heming is a character as charming as he is bizarre. Both the character and the book are enchanting and unsettling.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Length: 287 pages
Publication date: January 6, 2015
Source: publisher

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy A Pleasure and a Calling from Amazon (Kindle edition.)

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  1. I had this one preordered for my Kindle and forgot about it. And there it was this morning. Yay! Looking forward to it, especially after hearing your experience.


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