MysteryPeople June Pick Of The Month: The Farm by Tom Rob Smith
Everyone wishes for their parent’s retirement to be the best time of their lives: after a hard life full of work and family, we all wish that our mothers and fathers have a good time now that their responsibilities have shrunk and they have time to themselves. Daniel, the protagonist of The Farm, is no different; he is elated when his parents buy a small farm in Sweden and move there. But when his father suddenly phones Daniel to tell him is mother is ill and has been committed to an asylum after a psychotic breakdown, he immediately books a flight – only to cancel when his mother calls him and confides in him to not believe a word his father says. She tells him she will see him soon and explain the black conspiracy that has led her to trust her only son over her husband.
When I first read Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44, I was struck by the masterful plotting and well nuanced character development. This was a vibrant and intelligently written mystery set in Stalin’s Russia. Then I discovered, much to my surprise, that this was his FIRST novel! I was astounded by his talent and hungrily sought out the other books he wrote as soon as I could find them. As a trilogy, his works easily compare to the best of Martin Cruz Smith and John LeCarre, and as a fan, I have been looking forward to what this erudite author would attempt next. The Farm has been worth the wait.
Riveting and utterly impossible to put down, Smith masterfully structures most of the story as a deposition by Daniel’s Mum and the meticulous arrangement of what she experiences on the farm. The evidence she carries in her satchel lends credence to a provocative story with dark overtones. But is it the truth? Only a great storyteller could draw you down a path that is compelling and thrilling only to deliver a twist that will blow your mind!
Be aware that Smith’s writing style has evolved and so has the grace of his story development. There are layers to Daniel’s Mum’s story and even the good son may not be telling the entire truth. But this is what I want, a puzzle that challenges what the reader perceives to be the correct version of events. A book that makes you think. I want surprise and I’m sure that other fans of his work would agree. Pick up a copy of The Farm by Tom Rob Smith for yourself or as a gift for someone you love.You’ll find that, like me, you’ll read it cover to cover and reread it again, then look forward to whatever Smith may write next.