Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Farm by Tom Robb Smith

The Farm

By Tom Robb Smith

The Farm is an interesting thriller. Daniel gets a panicked and tearful call from his father Chris to say his mum is sick, mentally sick, that she'd been committed to a mental institution near where they live on a farm in Sweden, but had convinced the doctors to discharge her and she's gone missing. He warns that if she turns up at Daniel's home in London, that she is unwell and saying all sorts of false things, making accusations, and not to believe her.
Then Daniel gets the call from his mother, Tilde. She is at Heathrow, he  must pick her up. He finds her there, calm, lucid, fearful and she insists on telling her story, step by step, from the first days of their retirement to Sweden and the farm, to the slow unraveling and sinister details of the conspiracy to cover up a crime - a crime she says Daniel's father is somehow involved with.
So we have Daniel caught in the middle. Does he believe his father - that Tilde is psychotic and that all this evidence she is building is all in her head and that she's making something out of nothing? Or does he believe his mother - the woman before him with her bag full of her evidence, calmly and systematically building up the chain of events? It is an awful situation for Daniel to be in and ultimately he has to make a decision - who does he believe?
The Farm is an unusual book. It's structure is quite different to any I've read before and it slowly builds up tension. As the reader you are listening to Tilde tell her story, and sometimes you think what she is saying is palusable, then at other times you question if she is a reliable narrator, and you can't make up your mind. It is a book that is quietly dark and brooding and because of that I wasn't quite sure what I thought of it.
I tend to love a book or hate a book, and this one left me somewhere in between. I'm definitely glad I read it, but I am uncertain as to where it sits on my spectrum of enjoyment. I guess you'll have to make up your own mind...