Rating: 4 / 5
Full disclosure: I received an advance readers copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.
Daniel’s parents, Chris and Tilde recently moved from London to Sweden for their retirement, rehabbing a farm in rural Sweden, where Daniel’s mom grew up. He doesn’t give the move a second thought, and assumed this is what his parents wanted. All that changes when one morning he receives a frantic call from his father, stating that his mother is not well. Daniel is about to make plans to get on the next flight out to Sweden, when his father calls him again to say that somehow she was discharged and he has no idea her whereabouts. The phone call immediately after is his mom, informing him that everything his father has said about her is a lie, and she will be on the next flight to London to explain everything to him. Thus starts the mystery of what is supposedly wrong with his mother, and why is she implicating his father?
The Farm is incredibly engaging and a definite page-turner. On the one hand, Tilde is claiming that something awful has happened in the Swedish community where she resides with Chris, and on the flip side, Chris is insisting that Tilde is overreacting to events, and in some cases, imagining events. The Farm is mainly Tilde’s version of events as she recounts them to Daniel. Listening to his mother speak, Daniel begins wondering just how much he knows his parents, how blinded he has been to events, and how easily his parents have skewed his perspective. Though he has some secrets of his own, Daniel is surprised by how little he knows about his parents’ marriage and their financial situation.
I loved the suspense and reliability in Tilde’s voice. The occurrences she recounts are somewhat believable, but I couldn’t ever tell if she was exaggerating, misreading cues, or lying. It was bewildering and intriguing. The Farm is not a thriller, but still reads quickly. Little hints as to Tilde’s mindset and dropped along the way, and it is quite the ride to uncover the truth alongside Daniel.
Smith is the author of the successful Child 44 trilogy (links to reviews below), and while The Farm seems like a vast departure, Smith’s storytelling ability shines through. His writing ability reminds me a lot of one of my all-time favorite authors, Chris Bojhalian. Both have the ability to write engaging novels that cross geographies, genres, and time periods. Overall, I thought The Farm was enjoyable. It moves at a subtle, steady pace, and will make you want to keep on reading to uncover the truth.
Other books by Tom Rob Smith: