A Pleasure and a Calling – Phil Hogan


Publication date – 27 February 2014



4 of 5 stars

I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher via Net Galley, in exchange for an honest review.

“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…”

Most of us have a natural inclination to nosiness. We may try to peer surreptitiously at a fellow passenger’s book on a train, or tried to glance in through windows at night when the curtains aren’t drawn. We may want to know what the latest Hollywood star was wearing or who they are dating, or eagerly try to catch the glimpse of a bride in her dress if we stumble across a wedding. This is of course innocent enough. But what happens if that natural inquisitive nature turns into something more sinister? What is the next step, voyeur, stalker, killer…?

It is obvious from the outset that Mr Heming, and he is always known as Mr Heming, has sociopathic tendancies. He is a loner, blending into the background. He has a thriving business as an Estate Agent, yet lives in a flat rented through a shell company he owns. Oh and he has a key to every house he has ever sold, using them to ‘visit’ the properties and stay when the owners are out.

Oh this is a dark and twisted tale. I found myself at times not wanting to read any more of Mr Heming’s inner thoughts but felt compelled nonetheless to read on, the impending sense of dread ever increasing.

Through his meandering reminisces we see that Mr Heming’s issues have been around since he was a small child. His hiding and spying never seem to be innocent childhood japes and his actions then speak volumes as to the type of man he is to become. It is not so much the tale of his current predicament that is disturbing, though it is by no means comfortable, it is these reminisces that make it to me even more disturbing and sinister.

The use of the first person narrative is an excellent story-telling device. Listening to him recall his tale he makes us as the reader almost complicit, making the perils of discovery our own as well as his.

It also easy to be contradictory with this book. I spent half of my time wanting him to be caught in the act and the rest of the time willing him to hurry before he was revealed.

I can’t recall reading anything similar to this book but it had me gripped, I read the last half of the book in an afternoon. It leaves me with the feeling of being observed, and a reminder to perhaps change my locks….


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