The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet
Opening sentence: “The key slides and turns in the lock, smooth and slippery as a silverfish.”
The idea of a house swap does not appeal to me at all. A complete stranger living among (and probably having a good old look through) my belongings, sleeping in my bed and making themselves at home while I’m not there? Nope, I feel slightly violated just writing that. This is exactly why the idea of a house swap as the basis for a thriller works so well. It plays on these natural fears that people have about their personal space being intruded upon.
Caroline and Francis however, have no such worries. They list their Leeds flat on a house swap website and find themselves swapping homes for a week with the owner of a luxe house in Chiswick, London. Two years previous, an accumulation of events (Caroline’s affair with her work colleague, Carl and Francis’ problem with prescription drugs) meant their relationship was hanging by a thread, but they decide to work on their marriage and try to get it back on track.
Arriving in London, they straight away feel something is off about the house: It is cold, and impersonal – it almost seems the owner doesn’t want Caroline and Francis to know anything about them. Or do they? Slowly Caroline starts to pick up on cryptic little clues that confuse and frighten her. The owner seems to know a little too much about her past… Who exactly have they swapped houses with? Mix in Amber, the over-friendly neighbour who takes a shine to Caroline and you have a sinister little set up that Caroline has to decipher. She is trying to move on with her life, but someone won’t let her forget the past.
The House Swap had me hooked, it is a sharply written debut novel – the high level of tension that thrums through it from the beginning keeps those pages turning, right up until the unexpected ending. This was a cracking thriller, perfect for making my commute zip by in no time. Although it has to be said, it has done nothing to dissuade my initial feelings of never wanting to do a house swap.
I was sent this book in exchange for an honest review.