Wednesday, January 7, 2015
A PLEASURE AND A CALLING by Phil Hogan
Move over Hannibal Lector, Mr. Heming is in town. Phil Hogan has created a highly original remarkably creepy sociopath who holds you in thrall simply because he appears to be so normal. Mr. Heming, a real estate agent, is one of those people who simply blends into the scenery, no one notices him as he goes about his task of injecting himself into the lives of others.
Over seventeen years Mr. Heming has sold a number of lovely homes, and he has kept the keys to all of them. (He simply copies the original key and adds it to his personal collection. ) With such easy entree he’s able to read personal correspondence, see what clothes are worn and even what clients like to eat and drink. He relishes these moments, actually revels in being privy to the lives of others. At times he will change objects in a home or perhaps take a small something as a souvenir. It is an obsession, one that may be at least partially explained by his difficult childhood, younger years marked by accidents, unexplained disappearances.
Nonetheless, in the small English village in which he now lives Mr. Heming is admired and trusted by many including his office staff. He is extremely careful until his orderly life is disrupted by Abigail Rice, a young woman to whom he sold a house. He finds himself inordinately attracted to her, and is distressed to find she is having an affair with Douglas Sharp, a married man and another of Mr. Heming’s clients. Sharp is a ne’er do well and a scoundrel, living off of his older wife. And then a dead body is discovered in the backyard of another client’s home.
Readers will find themselves compulsively turning pages until the final line. Hogan has given us a chilling tale of psychological suspense that we will not soon forget.
- Gail Cooke