Alex Marwood takes the reader to a boarding house and one event will bring the tenants closer together but they will also realize how very little they know about each other:
Everyone who lives at 23 Beulah Grove has a secret and this is just the place that Collette needs to be to hide from the men and police that are chasing her. She needs a place where keeping a secret comes natural to the six tenants of the boarding house. But one of the residents has the ultimate secret that can never be found out. When a strange series of events push the tenants close together, hiding all of their secrets is about to become impossible and some secrets are worth killing for.
This is the first book that I have read by Marwood and I was really impressed with her writing style, plot and different take on psychological thriller/serial killer novel. Although the premise of this book makes it seem like Collette is the main character within this book, she is not, all of the tenants of the boarding house have their parts to play. This mean that the book has multiple points of view, basically one for each tenant in the building, and each of them has a story and history they are trying to get away from. It is through these point of views that you try to figure out which of them is the killer and based upon the information you get from the killer's point of view or The Lover as he likes to call himself this really narrows down the suspect pool for the reader. I think the most interesting part of this book is that none of the tenants within the apartment building realize that there is a serial killer living in the building and makes you realize that you don't really know who your neighbours are along with a very creepy landlord.
I truly mean Creepy Creepy landlord, Roy, who watches everything that his tenants do and in their most privates moments. He also has the personality of a slug (and the shape too) as he walks through the halls and tries to intimidate his renter into paying more as he discovers that they are running from something. I especially feel sorry for Cher who is an young teenager girl who has run away from a horrible foster situation but Roy would love to sample what she is trying to sell on the streets, so he continually jacks up her rent in the hope that she cannot pay. As I said creepy. As I'm not one for sex scenes so I'm really not going to like masturbation scenes and I found that this one had too much description attached to it especially when you take into account the shape that Roy is in, made it downright disturbing. This book makes me really glad that I am done living in a condo or apartment buildings.
I was really intrigued when Marwood brought in the mummification techniques that The Lover would do to his ladies. Marwood is very detailed in what The Lover would do from the oils he used to keep his ladies' skin from flaking away to the way in which he removed the organs to keep them from decomposing further. Additionally, you get to learn what happens to a body when he decides that he no longer likes one of his ladies and how that can do damage to the sewer system and I would not want to be there when the sewer decides to back up.
I was able to figure out who the Lover was before it was revealed by the author, but as much as this book is about a serial killer it really is not. It is about how little we know people in our life and no one is really who they seem to be, well except for the landlord, he was one creepy man and he was portrayed that way. Although this was not quite what I expected I still found the I enjoyed this book, but it wasn't the thriller or as scary it was portrayed to be (though I will say that there are other reviewers out there that found it scary and even Steven King thought it was scary). I would read another book by Marwood, as I liked her writing style an her different take on a mystery/thriller book, I'm going to check out her debut novel Wicked Girls.