Jolted from sleep by the ringing of the telephone, Imogen fumbles through the dark, empty house to answer it. At first, she can’t quite understand the man on the other end of the line. Surely he can’t honestly be accusing her of killing her husband. Ivor died in a car crash two months ago – she may not be adjusting to widowhood very well, but Imogen certainly didn’t murder him.
As the nights draw in, Imogen finds her home filling up with unexpected Christmas guests – but they may be looking for more than just holiday cheer. Has someone been rifling through Ivor’s papers? Who left the half-drunk whiskey bottle beside his favourite chair? And why won’t that man stop phoning Imogen, insisting he can prove her guilt?
This is my second Celia Fremlin novel and once again I enjoyed it, old school and intriguing I would actually put it more under family drama than I would mystery, albeit that there are mystery elements plus that same underlying sense of unease that was palpable in the last book I read of hers.
Imogen’s husband dies in a crash, a mysterious young man keeps accusing her of killing him and Imogen’s house is suddenly full of family and strangers. Through a series of odd and often unsettling occurrences we come to discover why they are all gathered around Imogen and the hidden truths at the heart of this family.
Celia Fremlin writes with a very edgy, involving style, gently leading the reader on a journey and immersing them into the lives of the characters she creates. In a lot of ways The Long Shadow is the very definition of a psychological thriller because everyone is unreliable and they all have character quirks that are hiding inner feelings. Still, a lot of this story centres around the minutiae of family life, the group dynamic is utterly riveting, the mystery element really does take a back seat to this intriguing set of people in a snapshot moment of their lives.
The theme of grief is a strong one, human nature takes front and centre and overall The Long Shadow is a dark joy to read – different from modern crime in its feel and execution but classically styled and brilliantly readable.
I look forward to more.