Having never read Child 44 or any other of Tom Rob Smith's books, I picked this up after reading the back of the book, and yes, I liked the cover and it reflects the story perfectly. This psychological thriller has a very simple, gripping premise. Daniel lives in London with his partner Mark, he has just been shopping when he gets a disturbing phone call from his father. His parents have recently retired to Sweden where they bought a farm. His father is crying and tells Daniel there is something wrong with his mother, that she has had some sort of mental breakdown and is imagining awful things.He tells Daniel she is in a mental hospital in Sweden. Daniel is completely baffled by the phone call, having never heard his father cry and believing everything was going well for his parents in Sweden prior to the phone call. He decides to book a flight to Sweden the next morning, but whilst he is at Heathrow he gets a phone call from his mother....
"Everything that man has told you is a lie. I'm not mad... I need the police... Meet me at Heathrow."
Therein begins a gripping tale where Daniel is caught between his parents, who to trust and ultimately who to believe. He must listen to his mother's story and evidence before deciding if it is true, if a crime has been committed and even more difficult, is his father a criminal?
I couldn't stop reading (cliche I know)
From the very beginning of the book the tale of Daniel and his parents is gripping, it clings to you, you think about it when you can't read it and try to work out what is happening, what the ending will be and ultimately who Daniel will believe. The book is written in short chapters, often with his mother's narrative, Daniel's thoughts and their mother and son interactions as she lays down the evidence for her only child. The story is about secrets, lies, family, child abuse, sexuality and mental health. There are some truly shocking twists to the story and the ending was both sad and thoroughly absorbing. Out of all the characters I found it hard to feel very much either way towards Daniel until towards the end of the book, but the family relationship with himself and his parents remains strong throughout, especially when reflecting on Daniel's childhood. His mother Tilde is the stand out character and I really did feel for her even not knowing if what she was saying was true. I would throughly recommend The Farm if you are a crime/thriller lover or even if you like a good meaty story which at times can be disturbing yet enthralling.