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Priyanka Bhattacharyya

By Lucie Whitehouse
Year 2016, pp. 276, Rs. 499.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 11 November 2016

The other book being reviewed is very different in its genre and appeal: no endearing canine warms the pages of this dark thriller. Indeed, the very cover of Lucy Whitehouse’s Keep You Close has a burning matchstick that might as well be a metaphor for the reading experience on offer: incandescent, thrilling, terrifying. Those readers who liked Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl will definitely enjoy this well-crafted whodunit. Marianne Glass, an artist, falls to her death from the upstairs window of the family home in Oxford, in what is assumed to be a tragic accident. Her estranged friend, Rowan Winter, is not convinced, though, knowing very well that Marianne has always had acute vertigo, and would never have gone so close to the roof’s edge. Rowan returns to the Glass family home in Fyfield Road for the first time in a decade to seek answers to disturbing questions about Marianne’s enigmatic life over the past years: her meteoric rise on London’s art scene, her romance with her gallerist, her friendship with a fellow artist, even Marianne’s latest work. The clues are tantalizingly close, yet often misleading. Marianne’s death lies entwined with her past, perhaps with the death of her handsome and unfaithful father Seb, a decade earlier. Rowan is drawn into a sinister web of Marianne’s personal and family history, and is again brought face to face with her own relationship with the whole Glass family, that once represented intellectual vigour and the romance of opportunity to her. She must contend with her old devotion to Marianne’s beautiful and intelligent mother Jacqueline. Rowan is motherless, and her father nearly always absent, and the Glass family has been an emotional surrogate for all that was missing in Rowan’s early youth. Whitehouse invests Rowan’s position as narrator with an edgy, unstable quality that adds to the appeal of this novel. Rowan shifts between nostalgia for Oxford and the fears and doubts of her fragile present, where her own life in not entirely safe. Michael Cory, a famous artist who was working on a portrait of Marianne when she died gets involved with Rowan’s sleuthing as well, adding to this volatile situation. Rowan seems not to have forgiven Seb’s infidelity, despite the Glass family’s lukewarm response to the same. Whitehouse constructs a superb twist in the tale that might leave ...

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