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Review: The Farm

The Farm - Tom Rob Smith

The Farm

Hardcover, 352 pages

Grand Central Publishing, 3 June 2014


Daniel is a garden designer living in London with his partner, Mark.  His parents, Chris and Tilde, have recently retired to a remote farm in Sweden, his mother's childhood home.  Daniel believes his parents are happy in their retirement until he receives a frantic phone call from his father.  His mother has had a mental breakdown and has fled the hospital where she was being treated.  Daniel is about to board a flight to Sweden when he receives a call from his mother, claiming everything his father has told him is a lie and she's on her way to London to see him.  As the accusations begin, Daniel is caught between his parents, unsure if he can believe his mother...especially once her conspiracy begins to implicate his father.

 

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"If you refuse to believe me, I will no longer consider you my son."

 

The Farm is a quick, engrossing read, the kind of book you'll want to finish in one sitting.  Short chapters end in cliffhangers, resulting in a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat.  Descriptions of the stark Swedish countryside, of hunting mushrooms in the forest, and of creeping around the house of a neighbor come to life through Smith's expert voice.  As well as bringing individual scenes to life, Smith also successfully conveys the suffocating isolation the residents of Chris & Tilde's new home feel, as though the location was a character itself.


The real-life events that inspired the events in this novel - the mental breakdown of Smith's mother - creates the ring of truth that makes this story so compelling. Tilde appears sane and reliable even as her story becomes less believable, moving farther into her suspicion and mythology.  The reader experiences the same confusion and skepticism that Daniel does.  The tension he feels in being asked to choose between his mother and his father is palpable to the reader, especially as he begins to realize that he does not know his parents as well as he had previously believed.


The Farm is a true psychological thriller.  There are no car chases, shootouts, or dramatic last-minute rescues.  At it's heart, it is about trust - how much do we really know about the people we love and who would we believe?  This fast-paced novel is sure to please Smith's existing fans and gain him several new.


(I received a copy of this book from Grand Central Publishing for an honest review.)