Publisher: Headline Review
A Summer To Die For
To Jem Chapman, it’s the chance of a lifetime. An invitation to join a group in an exclusive Hamptons house-share, who could say no? But when she discovers what happened last summer, Jem can’t help but feel a chill.
A young woman was found drowned in the house’s pool. The housemates said Alice was troubled. She’d been drinking. She couldn’t swim…
A Secret To Kill For
As Jem gets to know her glamorous new housemates, she realises each has something to hide. What really happened last summer? And who would go to any lengths to keep a person quiet?
Reviewer: Robyn Walton
Here’s another novel written by a British woman and pitched to the summer-holiday, female readership. Already an experienced fiction author, Tasmina Perry capably blends classy chick-lit with a low-key mystery investigation. Her settings – Manhattan/Brooklyn and the Hamptons – are astutely chosen. And her crime/mystery centrepiece – the death by water of a beautiful young woman – is on trend.
At 465 pages, The Pool House is not a short read. It is an easy read, however, provided you’re not picky about ambiguously worded and clichéd writing. Initially I read the first paragraph of the Prologue and decided not to go on. (Reading that is, not living.) A day or two later I relented, skipping the Prologue and beginning with the first sizable section. ‘This summer’, chapters 1-14, is told from the point of view of a pleasant and a little naïve 30-something English woman recently arrived in New York to live there with her attractive and ambitious husband. Cue the warning bells.
The opportunity to spend summer weekends in a vacation-house in an exclusive Long Island community, sharing with three stylish couples, is too much for Jemma’s husband, Nat, to resist.
“Excellent,” said Todd, raising his glass. “That’s settled then. Any last questions before we ask you to sign your souls away?”
Section two, ‘Last summer’, chapters 15-23, is told from the point of view of Alice, who with her husband David stayed in the beach-house the year before Jemma and Nat join the clique. It will be Alice who dies in the house’s swimming pool, although of course she does not know this as she narrates her recent activities.
Alice and Jemma are effectively differentiated women, and the reader is given enough time with each to immerse herself in their different ways of living and thinking. The alternating sections (this and last summer) then become briefer as complications compound and suspicions are built up.
Keeping up with who is who among the other couples and their associates is not always simple, but it is necessary if you want to play along with the mystery element of the plot: if Alice’s death was a homicide, who would have wanted to kill her and why? It’s probable some readers won’t try too hard; the slow-burn romance (Jemma), enthusiastic bonking (Alice), and glamorous parties (everybody) will be enough for their leisure-time requirements.