Your Preview Verdict: A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon

Your Preview Verdict: A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon

Linda lives on a nice, normal street. She has a nice, normal husband and a nice, normal life.

But Linda isn’t entirely satisfied. And then the murders start…

From the bestselling author of THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP and THREE THINGS ABOUT ELSIE, this is a compelling, sinister and perceptive novel about keeping yourself to yourself.

After all, the grass isn’t always greener. Especially if you’re six feet beneath it.

Read some great reviews from our Preview readers here:

I absolutely loved this character driven novel. Linda was so fun to get to know and definitely kept me guessing along the way as I tried to determine how reliable she was. Her interactions with the other characters such as husband Terry and her mother made me feel so sad at times and I ended up loving to hate them. This was so well written, alternating between now and then a period of 6 week, I loved the way bits of info were slowly fed to you and how the story evolved. At times this one reminded me of The Maid with similar main characters, the way you’re looking in at situations you think the protagonist can’t see and the mystery element. I did find the mystery side of things in The Maid predictable, this one kept me guessing the whole way through. This was my first book by Joanna Cannon but it won’t be my last, can’t wait to read more. Kirsten, ACT, 5 Stars

Linda and Terry live a normal life in a normal house in a normal street in a normal estate, with normal jobs. When post delivers some mail to the previous tenant, Linda tasks herself to find her and see if she is as glamorous as she pictures her. Meanwhile around the estate girls start to go missing, right around the time Terry starts to change his work hours and disrupts everything. Not everything is as it seems when you live a normal life. This is a slow burn murder mystery with so much chaos for a normal person and story. I loved the story and the double twisted ending. This is a brilliant read, with a storyline that could happen in any town, with characters are relatable. Mystery fans will not be disappointed. Amanda, VIC, 5 Stars

A Tidy Ending could well be titled An Interesting Ending. Joanna Cannon has produced another well written novel, complete with unexpected twists and turns in both character and story line. Linda lives in a small UK housing estate with her husband Terry. Although they both have their issues and quirks, life is relatively uneventful, until young women are found murdered within the estate. However, nothing is ever as it seems. Linda works at the local charity shop, cares for Terry and their home, and her mother. Going about her daily life, Linda takes note of her surroundings. Is she a local busy body, or perhaps just a concerned citizen who cares about her friends and neighbours? Joanna Cannon has written A Tidy Ending with an interesting view. Chapters switch between now and “then”. I found this had me guessing right until the very end. As did the very intriguing story line. Just when I thought I had figured out what was happening, I found I was at another turn in the story, and my theories were completely sidelined. Thank you to Better Reading and Harper Collins Publishing for my ARC of A Tidy Ending, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Karen, WA, 5 Stars

It is true that we do not really know the people who walk among us; a friend can be a stranger and a stranger become a friend. The girl that does the dusting in your flat and takes an interest in what you wear and how you have your hair, is it just being nice or is it something else? When a spate of murders of young women in a small town start to follow a pattern, the local police and townspeople turn toward those who have trouble proving their whereabouts at the time of the murders. When people start using their family for an alibi when they are really somewhere else, where were they actually and what were they doing? Are they really parked in a quiet spot trying to sort out the intricacies of their lives after losing their job, or are they stalking and murdering their victims? Or is it the ‘quiet ones’ that you have to watch out for? A very well written book which keeps you guessing right to the end; actually I am still not really certain who the murderer was! Terry, SA, 5 Stars

I loved this book! Linda made me chuckle with her, feel embarrassed for her, wort for her, cheer for her – right up until the last chilling sentence when I became scared of her. Kirralee, SA, 5 Stars

The quirkiness and the engaging writing style had me hooked like and sinker into this. As the story progressed I became more and more enthralled in the plot. Especially the last few characters, and more so with the ending! It is not what you think it’s going to be!! Nicole, VIC, 5 Stars

The story is narrated by Linda, who is such an intriguing character. She works at a charity shop, doesn’t really have any friends and spends her time cleaning and eating Jaffa cakes. I was drawn in by the characters and was curious to know what how the story would unfold. I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish as it was so cleverly written. Highly recommend. Natalie, NSW, 5 Stars

THIS BOOK 🤯🤯 I thoroughly enjoyed Linda the main character. She was so easy to relate to and oozed charisma. The book had Eleanor Oliphant vibes, which I loved and a twist of mystery, which I loved even more! I could NOT put this book down! It’s an incredible read… I’m calling it early and saying this is going to be my favourite book of 2022! Melissa, QLD, 5 Stars

Linda was damaged by a childhood trauma. She is now an uncertain adult, fearful of germs, wary of her husband, Terry, and constantly quoting the wisdom of her ageing and embittered mother. Linda’s voice is engaging, perhaps because most of us would do all we could to avoid her train-wreck existence. (“There, but for the grace of God” etc) Linda narrates a dreary but respectable day to day life of charity shop work, hoovering, fish fingers and telly. Meanwhile, Cannon cleverly drip-feeds us subtle clues as to what is actually happening in this excessively clean house on the very ordinary estate. Perhaps the childhood trauma has inured Linda to her community’s grotesque preoccupation with the recent spate of strangulation murders. She relays news of these in much the same way that people speak of the weather. Things change when Linda befriends Rebecca (who previously lived in the house Linda now keeps spotlessly clean) and Rebecca’s “business partner”, Jolyon. There is excitement in Linda’s life at last. But what is REALLY going on? Thank you for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this engrossing mystery. Heidi, VIC, 5 Stars

Just as surely as the narrator of this dark tale, Linda, wields her Hoover in her house on Cavendish Avenue to keep it tidy and clean, the author sucked me whole into this grippingly brilliant novel. Having escaped a dark, traumatic childhood past in Wales, Linda seems to have a boring life: friendless, socially inept, cooking unimaginative meals for her slob of a husband, Terry, constantly tidying up, working part time at a charity shop, and visiting her overbearing mother. But then factory worker Terry’s hours and predictable habits seem to change just at the same time as a serial killer starts praying on local women. Meanwhile Linda tracks down the previous occupant of the house in which they now live as she imagines that there must be a more glamorous life that she could be leading, given the glossy catalogues that still get sent to the house addressed to the previous occupant, Rebecca. Thanks to Better Reading for sending me this novel of perfect prose chock-full of acute societal observations and wry, if sometimes discomforting, humour. I totally recommend it and loved the neat twist at the end – very tidy! Pamela, QLD, 5 Stars

This is the first book that I have read by Joanna Cannon and after enjoying its quirkiness and style of writing, I am now keen to read her previous, ‘The Trouble With Goats and Sheep’ and ‘Three Things about Elsie’. Linda is an interesting character who is very much the subject of her troubled upbringing. She lives a humdrum existence and struggles to connect with people and make friends. Interestingly, she did manage to meet and marry Terry, although he seems to have very few redeeming qualities, bringing annoyance rather than quality to her life. The delivery of catalogues for the previous occupant of their house piques her interest in not so much the objects in the catalogues but the previous occupant herself and this is where the story gets interesting. On first impressions of Linda, you believe she is easily manipulated by all around her – Terry, her Mum, the staff at the charity shop where she works and the people she meets. However, as the story evolves, you will find it definitely flips to her becoming chief manipulator – at what final cost we are unsure! An interesting, engaging, quirky read! Sue, VIC, 4 Stars

This novel follows protagonist Linda as she and her husband Terry navigate life in quiet suburbia. When women in the neighbourhood are murdered, Linda discovers that what lies beneath the surface is something far more sinister and unorthodox. A contemporary mystery where everything is not as it seems. Deborah, QLD, 4 Stars

A Tidy Ending, written by Joanna Cannon, was an enjoyable read. Although a little slow paced at times, with a sort of lull mid way. Having said that, the last third, picks up! If you are looking for a thriller, this wouldn’t be it. I did feel empathy towards the quirky, dysfunctional characters, which kept me going. Thank you Better Reading for the review opportunity. Rebecca, TAS, 4 Stars

I did enjoy this book. It reminded me of Elinor Oliphant. The main character, Linda, also lacks understanding social cues and “normal” human behaviour from other people. Her childhood backstory is slowly revealed and her relationship with her mother and husband is lacking any support. It is only the obsession with finding her house’s previous owner that seems to give Linda a sense of purpose. All in all, I thought it was an interesting read but I had a few questions about the ending. Karlie, SA, 4 Stars

The more pages you turn, the more you need to know what happens. I fell in love with Linda and all of tragic characteristics, Joanna Cannon writes an unreliable character perfectly. Throughout the book I was left confused on why some parts were In the book and the further I got into it the more everything made sense. A jaw dropping ending that left me wanting more! Courtney, QLD, 4 Stars

Linda Hammett is the epitome of ordinariness, or is she? In setting the scene, Joanna Cannam describes every detail of her very mundane life, with the occasional glimpses that everything is not what it might seem. There is the hint of something terrible having happened with her Dad in her childhood, a scene that she has happened on. Her mother is demanding, controlling but Linda has learnt to block her out, as she does with her husband, Terry, who comes and goes at odd hours to his work. In dreaming of a different life, Linda opens a catalogue that came for the previous occupant of the house, Rebecca Finch and imagines herself becoming best friends with Rebecca, which she then sets about achieving, having located her using her mother’s borrowed laptop and her rudimentary search skills. All the while, young women are being murdered systematically in the neighbourhood in which Linda and Terry live. The mystery unfolds and the story gives very little away until very close to the end where it comes to a surprising and startling conclusion. Highly recommended and will keep you turning the pages. Robyn, QLD, 4 Stars

This is an impressive thriller, well crafted, with a clever twist that I didn’t see coming because I missed the clues. In my view the end is indeed ‘A Tidy Ending’. I re-read parts of the book to see what I missed. The book is sedate at first, but the pace picks up at end. I did have a small personal obsession with the ‘how’ – this is still unresolved. Don’t want to reveal any spoilers so will keep my review short. Sandra, ACT, 4 Stars

It took me a while to engage with ‘A Tidy Ending’ by Joanna Cannon. I wasn’t sure where it was going or if I wanted to find out. Fortunately I found myself wanting to know more about the characters, about Linda’s childhood trauma, and how the side story of Rebecca and Jolyon fitted in . All was not what it seemed. It’s difficult to review this intriguing novel without risking spoilers. The ending is a combination of the expected and the unexpected, definitely ‘a tidy ending’. I’m very glad I decided to read it. This is a disturbing character driven novel centred around Linda Hammet, an uninspiring, ordinary housewife, married to Terry, a boorish and usually predictable man. Lately though Terry has become secretive and keeping odd hours. Coincidentally girls have started to disappear only to be found dead in the Hammet’s neighbourhood. Linda appears to be a pathetic awkward almost invisible character, possibly with OCD. Yet she is also funny, very perceptive and calculating. Set over a six-week period, while the close community is caught up in fear, turmoil and suspicion, Linda’s odd many layered life and inner desires is revealed to the reader. Sandra, NSW, 4 Stars

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘A Tidy Ending’ It kept me interested to the very end. Linda, the main character, keeps you intrigued till the very end. You try to understand what is happening both in the past and also the present. The text is well written and follows every day events and mysterious ideas, which have you questioning what is really happening. Who are the various characters and what is their significance to the plot? This is something you ask yourself to the final chapter. Certainly worth reading. Lorraine, VIC, 4 Stars

Linda and her husband Terry live in an ordinary neighbourhood, they’re just an average couple. Then women start being murdered nearby… The whole story is narrated by Linda. She works at a charity shop, doesn’t really have friends (she’s a shy, awkward sort of person who is often overlooked) and likes cleaning and Jaffa cakes. From the start I wondered if she was a reliable narrator but she’s entirely convincing. There’s a dark story concerning her father in her childhood, this is slowly revealed. I enjoyed this from start to finish, particularly the satisfying last few chapters, it’s very well done. I liked Linda’s idiosyncratic voice and her observations. The writing is clever with some dark humour and believable characters. An excellent read. Janelle, NSW, 4 Stars

A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon is a story written from inside Linda’s thoughts. Linda is a unique person that no one really notices but Linda is very observant and notices all the small details about people and life. Her perception on encounters with others though is slightly off balanced to the rest of society. Linda has a dark past and has gone through a severe trauma as a child. She witnessed a traumatic event involving her father, which is slowly revealed as the story goes on. Linda now lives with her husband Terry. They live in an ordinary neighbourhood, with Linda’s mother living close by. They are a pretty unremarkable couple and the marriage is very unfulfilling. Linda works at a charity shop, doesn’t really have friends and likes to clean. When Linda receives magazine mail addressed to the previous tenant, Rebecca, Linda starts to become obsessed with the life that Rebecca may lead. Then women start being murdered in the neighbourhood and it becomes apparent that there is a serial killer close by. There was a lot going on in this story and it took me a while to settle into the story. Linda’s obsession with the previous tenant, Terry’s work hours and his disengagement into his marriage, Linda and her Mum’s relationship, the trauma from Linda’s past and the serial killings, it took me a little while to settle into each timeframe and understand what was going on. As I continued into the story I got a real feeling for Linda and surmised that she is a character possibly on the spectrum. Without saying much more I will say that the twist at the end was worth hanging in until the end but is a book I probably wouldn’t be pushing others to read. Ally, TAS, 3 Stars

A quirky book, quirky characters, a thriller narrated through the protagonist called Linda. Linda and her husband, had recently moved to a new house, not far from their other home in a quiet neighbourhood. I was mystified by the character of Linda, who seemed to be different from others, and seemed disconnected from everyone, even her husband. I was irritated by her character at times and her views on other people. Her obsessions with the previous owner of the house, Rebecca and her partner or business partner. The way that the couple treated Linda, yet Linda didn’t seem to mind. But as I moved through the book, I realised that the response I had to these characters were all part of the way the author led me to feel. I was drawn into the mind of Linda, and an interesting mind it was. It is a book that i could read again, to pick up all the ways i had been led to believe about the characters by the author. A well written book and plot about how the past influences the present and it isn’t always as it seems. As Linda said in the first chapter,”… that there are always two ways to interpret everything in life. All you need to do is pick the version that suits you better” Glenda, VIC, 3 Stars

Don’t expect to relate to any of the quirky characters in this book. May sound like they are ordinary but far from it. I found the book a bit confusing to start with and the pieces don’t fall together until the very end. In the meantime we are left with a lot of guessing, assuming and trying to work out “who done it” while hearing of all the clutter of a life that is not very interesting. I must admit I did not really enjoy it so much and was left disappointed in the end because as much as you may feel sorry for the main character all is revealed in the end. A touch of phycological thriller, mystery and intrigue. Linda, VIC, 3 Stars

The narrator of the story, Linda Hammett, is often treated as a simple soul when she is a complex but likeable character. We cringe as she speaks of a deep yearning for friendship, and we worry when we think others are taking advantage of her. Who would think that an outing to a department store could be so stressful? Linda constantly relives the traumatic events of her childhood which we can see have severely damaged her. She is meticulous and methodical in how she lives her lacklustre life, working in an undervalued job at the local charity shop, while worrying about her overbearing mother, and living in a housing estate filled with nosy busybodies with an uncommunicative husband who spends most of his time in front of the TV. A serial killer on the loose only adds to Linda’s anxiety and internal dialogue. It is not surprising that she is attracted to the lifestyle of the former occupant of her house, the glamorous Rebecca Finch, but you sense they could never be friends. Little by little the reader learns more about the characters and their past and current situation, but nothing prepares you for the ending of this unusual novel. Michelle, VIC, 3 Stars

Publisher details

A Tidy Ending
Joanna Cannon
28 April, 2022



Linda has lived around here ever since she fled the dark events of her childhood in Wales. Now she sits in her kitchen, wondering if this is all there is – pushing the Hoover round and cooking fish fingers for tea is a far cry from the glamorous lifestyle she sees in the glossy catalogues coming through the door for the house’s previous occupant.


Terry isn’t perfect – he picks his teeth, tracks dirt through the house and spends most of his time in front of the TV. But that seems fairly standard – until he starts keeping odd hours at work, at around the same time young women start to go missing in the neighbourhood.


If Linda could just track down Rebecca, who lived in the house before them, maybe some of that perfection would rub off on her. But the grass isn’t always greener: you can’t change who you really are, and there’s something nasty lurking behind the net curtains on Cavendish Avenue…

Joanna Cannon
About the author

Joanna Cannon

Joanna Cannon graduated from Leicester Medical School and worked as a hospital doctor, before specialising in psychiatry. She lives in the Peak District with her family and her dog. The Trouble With Goats and Sheep is her first novel.

Books by Joanna Cannon


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