Thursday, 27 February 2014

A Pleasure And A Calling

A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan
Published by Doubleday
27th February 2014
Hardback Edition




You won't remember Mr Heming. He showed you round your comfortable home, suggested a sustainable financial package, negotiated a price with the owner and called you with the good news. The less good news is that, all these years later, he still has the key.

That's absurd, you laugh. Of all the many hundreds of houses he has sold, why would he still have the key to mine?

The answer to that is, he has the keys to them all.

William Heming's every pleasure is in his leafy community. He loves and knows every inch of it, feels nurtured by it, and would defend it - perhaps not with his life but if it came to it, with yours...

If you were to put a gun to my head and ask me to explain myself, I suppose I might begin by saying that we are all creatures of habit.  But then, you might wonder, what creature of habit is a slave to the habits of others?  All I can say is that the habitual is what I love most and am made for; that the best I can do is hang on, have faith, and hope what has lately blown through our unremarkable  but well-ordered town will be forgotten and all will be calm again.  Right now I feel lucky to hear myself breathe.  The air is dangerously thin.  It seems to rush in my ears.  And yet the scene is peaceful here in the half-lit, slumbering pre-dawn: a white coverlet glowing in the room, a discarded necklace of beads, a shelf of books, one face down, splayed on the bedside-table, as though it – like the whole town at this hushed time – is dead to the world.  I cannot make out the title but the sight of this book with its familiar cover image (the shape of a man in raised gilt) returns me to that day, not too long ago, when the wind changed and the sky blackened and ordinary life – startled by the sudden thunderclap of the unusual – reared, kicked over the lantern and turned the barn into a raging inferno whose leaping, thrilling flames could be seen from a hundred miles away.


On the surface William Heming is an ordinary man.  Runs a successful estate agency, keeps himself to himself, quiet and unassuming.  But then you might start to wonder why he has no real friends or how come his family, such as it is, want nothing to do with him.  Dig a little deeper and you might find out why he was expelled from school, and why the neighbours from his childhood are suspicious of him.

Mr Heming has more than one secret and he’s very good at keeping them.  And not only secrets - but keys as well.  Every key from every house he has viewed and sold.  Mr Heming likes to visit your house when you aren’t there, sometimes taking a trophy or too while he’s at it.   Occasionally he stays when you are on holiday – call it all part of the service; for once Mr Heming has been let into your house, you can guarantee he won’t be leaving in a hurry.  Mr Heming likes his secrets to remain secrets, so try not to get in his way and find out too much about him, or it might just cost you your life!

I loved this book, it’s original and well-written, and a real page-turner.  If after reading this, you haven’t changed all of your locks, I’d be very surprised!


Happy Reading


Miss Chapter x


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