Source: Review copy
Publication: Transworld Digital on 1st February 2018
He has the key to hundreds of houses.
Maybe even to yours.
A gripping, sinister, deeply unsettling novel from the most sociopathic narrator of 2018. Meet Mr Heming…
William Heming is an estate agent. He’s kept a copy of every key to every house he’s ever sold. Sometimes he visits them. He lets himself in when the owners are out. But what will happen if he gets caught?
What will he do next?
The Intruder is one very creepy book.
William Heming is an estate agent who runs his own successful business. His clients value his work and he in turn likes to know everything he can about them. William Heming has a different kind of hobby. He collects people the way that lepidopterists collect butterflies. If he could, he would pin them to a board and study them.
As a child, he was a creepy little boy. He would sneak around; hide away so that he could steal glimpses of other people’s lives. He collected this knowledge like other little boys collect stamps and wrote it all down in a journal that he kept locked away.
As a young man, his passion for collecting people had not diminished but his job with an estate agency enabled him to afford to do so with more ease. Now he carries a camera to record information he finds on phones, in their passports – anywhere they keep their personal details.
Now that he owns the estate agency he used to work in, he has all the access to people that he needs. Because he has, unbeknownst to both sellers and buyers, kept a copy of every single key to each house that the agency has ever bought or sold.
He likes to lets himself in and has a good look around. Sometimes he makes himself something to eat ; ( I had a horrifying recollection here of the serial killer Peter Manuel who did the same thing) sometimes, if he can manage it without getting caught, he will stay for the weekend. He is so invasive that I shudder to think about it; the violation of privacy is such an important act.
William Hemming is the archetypal psychopath and he is our narrator.
We learn of his early years; why he was sent away to boarding school and why he was later expelled.
When we first meet him though, it is when he is both affable and a concerned citizen. When he is anxious to right a wrong; to do a good turn for an elderly woman whose parked car has been damaged by a careless driver – a driver who, imaging his carelessness to be unseen, drives away without stopping.
Ah, if only that driver truly understood what the devastating consequence of that one small decision would be.
The Intruder leads the reader on a journey of understanding through the mind of William Heming. Because, as we will come to understand, he is a psychopath, there are no extremes of emotion here; no self-justification. Just the slow and steady burn of a man bent on doing what he perceives he has to do in order to carry on collecting people the way he has always done. Outwardly charming enough, it is this veneer of affability that is both sinister and uncomfortable.
It is his coldness; this utter lack of empathy or feeling that chills the reader right through to the bone as one by one the bodies fall in pursuit of his quest.
The Intruder is a very well written book, structured as a first person narrative in the present, with flashback sequences, which serve to let us understand how Heming became the man he is today.
Though it has a slow build up, this only serves to make it even creepier and I was impressed by the plotting of the story arc that P.S. Hogan has achieved and which I think elevates this book from a standard thriller to something rather more sophisticated.
A very clever and very good thriller from an excellent writer.
About PS Hogan
P. S. Hogan was born in Yorkshire. He is married with four children and has been a journalist and columnist on the Observer for over 20 years.