This book by Tom Rob Smith is the best thriller I’ve read this year, one of those ‘who do I believe?’ scenarios. It’s an ordinary day for Daniel until his mobile rings. It’s his father. “Your mother’s sick… She’s not well… She’s been imagining things.” His mother is in hospital, he says, she’s been committed. As Daniel prepares to fly to Sweden where his parents live, his father calls again; his mother is missing.
His mobile rings again, it is his mother. She says his father is lying. Who to believe?
And so starts The Farm, a book which questions the parent/sibling relationship, lies told within the family, and how far a family can be stretched before it breaks. It is a story of a Swedish woman and her English husband retiring to a farm in rural Sweden, looking for a new start, an active retirement, anticipating being part of a close-knit community.
Tilde arrives in London and tells Daniel that his father is lying. She is not ill, she is in danger, she has discovered crimes, lies, irregularities. At all times she carries an old leather satchel which she says is full of evidence.
Who to believe?
Life on the farm is not as they hoped. Tilde says they have no money, the neighbours are brusque and cold, and the behaviour of her husband Chris has changed. Tilde becomes concerned for the adopted daughter of a neighbour, Håkan, a powerful man both physically and locally in the community, who becomes a new friend for Chris. Crimes have been committed, Tilde says. The community is keeping secrets, and she feels threatened. Her husband seems to be conspiring with Håkan. Tilde is afraid.
Chris tells Daniel that his mother has suffered a psychotic episode, that her behaviour has changed, that she may turn violent. That she is imagining things.
Daniel does not know who to believe. His reaction to his mother and father’s stories are coloured by the fact that he too has lied to them, by withholding from them the truth of his sexuality and his current relationship.
For more about Tom Rob Smith and his other thrillers, click here.
‘The Farm’ by Tom Rob Smith [UK: Simon & Schuster] Buy now
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