Why we love it: A clever and chilling psychological thriller, Keep You Close kept us guessing until the very last page as we tried to put together the many pieces of its shockingly original plotline.
Rowan and Marianne Glass were great high school friends, but they haven’t spoken for ten years after a major fall-out. When Marianne dies falling from the roof of her family home, Rowan can’t believe it really was an accident – Marianne suffered terrible vertigo and had always been terrified of going near the edge.
At the funeral, Rowan offers to look after Marianne’s Oxford home, but soon finds herself on the trail of what really happened to her friend, who was on the cusp of international fame as an artist. Having lost her own mother as a baby and her father to career and a new family, Rowan had embraced Marianne and the Glass family as if they were her own. While she relishes being back in their warm embrace, things are not what they seem and she fears that long-buried secrets are about to be discovered.
With the arrival of the infamous American artist Michael Corey and Marianne’s brother Adam, who Rowan always had a soft spot for, things start to spiral out of control and Rowan can’t figure out who to trust. There’s also someone hanging around the house in the dark and Rowan wonders if it’s the same person who was responsible for Marianne’s death.
Keep You Close draws us deeply into the action and also the place; Whitehouse deftly sets the scene, creating a chilly and chilling atmosphere subtly but effectively, so that we’re almost transported to a bleak English winter, cold and sombre. We love her well-observed depiction of the English academic milieu too; the creepy Oxford house and the slightly shabby homes just so tastefully underdone. She’s also adept at the subtle psychological insight into her characters as they are drawn into suspicion of each other; their facial expressions revealing so much as each one of them wonders who’s hiding what.
As much as we tried to figure out the pieces of this intricate plot, we didn’t see the final, startling, twist coming. Whitehouse is highly skilled at withholding just the right amount of information so that we’re madly turning the pages wondering what’s going to happen next. We’ve heard many novels compared to Gone Girl recently, but this really did remind us of Gillian Flynn’s popular novel. We even dare to venture… This is better!
Lucie Whitehouse is the author of three other novels, The Bed I Made, The House at Midnight and most recently Before We Met, described by the Observer as ‘nail-biting, spine-tingling’ and by the thriller writer Kate Mosse as ‘spectacular’. Whitehouse studied Classics at Oxford University and now lives in Brooklyn, New York.