There were good people in The Homes. But there were also some very, very bad ones…
A thousand unwanted children live in The Homes, a village of orphans in the Scottish Lowlands on the outskirts of Glasgow. Lesley was six before she learned that most children live with their parents. Now Lesley is twelve, and she and her best friend Jonesy live in Cottage 5, Jonesy the irrepressible spirit to Lesley’s quiet thoughtfulness.
Life is often cruel at The Homes, and suddenly it becomes much crueller. A child is found murdered. Then another. With the police unable to catch the killer, Lesley and Jonesy decide to take the matter into their own hands. But unwanted children are easy victims, and they are both in terrible danger…
Inspired by a true story, and introducing readers to the unforgettable voice of young orphan Lesley, The Homes is a moving and lyrical thriller, perfect for readers of Val McDermid, Chris Whitaker, Jane Casey and Denise Mina.
There are several things that I really liked about ‘The Homes’. Firstly, the setting is rather unusual – I’ve read loads of crime thrillers over the last few years, but the village for ophans presented a space for childish gossip, unsophisticated analysis of the crimes and a fear that someone else who Lesley knows may be the next victim.
I loved that Lesley’s upbringing was based on the experiences from the author’s mother, which allowed him to paint a realistic picture; I felt that by the end of the book, the setting was both familiar and claustrophobic.
I also really appreciated the novel’s style, which I found to be like a breath of fresh air in this genre. Whilst many crime novels are dark and depressing, filled with complicated technical language and police/forensic jargon, ‘The Homes’ is told from Lesley’s point of view, which led to facts being revealed at face-value, all of her suspects being those whom she knows well and has had recent interactions with. As ‘the adult’, I thought that I knew better than her – I’ll let you find out for yourself whether I was correct in this assumpition or not!
Lesley is only twelve, and although she’s bright and has had a difficult childhood, there is an air of naivity and charm about her relaying of details. She tells her first person narrative in a very matter-of-fact manner; I was reminded of Roald Dahl pointing out that, to a child, many things that adults find extraordinary are just one more new idea – murder does not faze her any more than bullying or friendships.
All-in-all, I found this novel to be a real page-turner. Short chapters and an appealingly simplistic style worked really well with the content. This was a five star read for me!
‘The Homes’ was published as a hardback and ebook on 26th May 2022.