Friday, 15 July 2016

Book Review - 'They All Fall Down' by Cat Hogan.

I received a copy of this title, from the publisher, in return for an honest review...

A small fishing village in Ireland is the setting for an unusual set of circumstances.  Jen has inherited a house with a lodger and is slowly falling for his charms.  Andy is a widowed fisherman, gentle of spirit and he awakens something within Jen.  Their chemistry is obvious but she is afraid to act on it.  Scott is the fisherman's sinister friend, determined to keep the pair apart.  But why?

Single Mum, Jen, has uneasy feelings toward Scott from the get-go.  He is a dark shadow that seems to appear at the worst possible times and is the complete opposite of his best friend.  Rich, suave and a complete snob, he steps over people to get what he wants in life.  These includs Jen, her friends and anyone else he sees as a threat.  Tense dinner parties, subtle threats and many, many secrets all become part of Scott's larger plan.

This is Cat Hogan's debut novel and the title refers to an old playground song, Ring-a-ring-o' Roses.  Although there is no real connection to this rhyming tune, the house of cards that Scott is trying to control does require a lot of balancing.  The novel opens with a short, sinister prelude, on a cliff edge.  The story begins with an introduction to Jen and her son, Danny, and how they have ended up in their little cottage with Andy as a lodger.  There is then a strong chapter which gives the reader a glimpse into the dark and seedy mind of Scott, who obviously has more than a bit of the Norman Bates about him.  The novel then heads off in a different direction, with many characters (mostly friends of Jens) appearing and lots of name-repeating in each sentence of the dialogue.  The second half picks up a little pace as Scott's obsession becomes irrational and Jen seems to be the only one who can see it.  The story then shifts up a notch and sprints towards its ending.  

Cat Hogan obviously has a love of the sea, its lighthouses, its beaches and its overall atmosphere.  There are moments when you can almost feel the breeze and taste the salt air on the tip of your tongue.  I would have liked to have more visuals of the village, the pub, the local shop etc, to add a little more to the story.  The ongoing mention of characters names, within dialogue, can be jarring for a reader but that is a personal issue that not everyone notices.  This is a clever debut, with a despicable bad guy balancing out the fair and sweet protagonist.  Andy is a dream lodger, for any fresh-blooded female and one can definitely see how Jen would fall for him.  I'm just not sure he would ever be friends with Scott or fall for his continuous lies.  I look forward to see what direction Cat Hogan will lead us in with book two.  She is not afraid of the dark side of a story, which a great thriller really needs, and I hope she delves even further into the murky minds of some fictional characters in the future.

They All fall Down is published by Poolbeg and is available in TPB and ebook format.

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