Source: Review copy
Publication: 1st September 2019 from Thomas and Mercer
A beautiful home. A loving wife. And in-laws to die for.
Gemma Robinson comes into Elliot’s life like a whirlwind, and they marry and settle into his home. When she asks him if her parents can come to stay for a couple of weeks, he is keen to oblige – he just doesn’t quite know what he’s signing up for.
The Robinsons arrive with Gemma’s sister, Chloe, a mysterious young woman who refuses to speak or leave her room. Elliot starts to suspect that the Robinsons are hiding a dark secret. And then there are the scars on his wife’s body that she won’t talk about . . .
As Elliot’s in-laws become more comfortable in his home, encroaching on all aspects of his life, it becomes clear that they have no intention of moving out. To protect Gemma, and their marriage, Elliot delves into the Robinsons’ past. But is he prepared for the truth?
Mark Edwards specialises in taking honest to goodness characters – people you can easily relate to – giving them decent personalities and making you feel like you’d be happy to have them as a neighbour. Then he turns their lives upside down and gives them hell.
In Here to Stay, Elliot Foster is an all-round good guy. He lives alone, save for his cat Charlie for company, in a Victorian house he has completely refurbished in Cuckoo Lane, West Dulwich. Never married, 38 year old Elliot runs a not for profit company with his business partner, Amira that specialises in teaching science in under-resourced areas of London.
Elliot is rightly proud of his house and garden and that’s how he meets Gemma Robinson, a vet who turns up for a late showing of his garden on Open Gardens day. From there, it is a whirlwind, almost fairy tale romance. He falls head over heels for Gemma, she reciprocates and soon they are off to Vegas to celebrate their nuptials.
Then Gemma’s parents and her sister, Chloe arrive in the UK from France and come to stay. That’s when the nightmare begins. Jeff and Lizzy Robinson are loud, boorish, slovenly and chaotic. Chloe, in contrast, seems to be ill, staying in her room and not coming out at all. Their stated intention of staying for just a few days seems to be just one of the lies they have told and soon bad things are starting to happen.
As his nightmare deepens, Elliot is driven to his wits end, exploring every avenue he can think of to get Gemma’s parents to move on. In Cuckoo Lane, it seems it is the Robinson cuckoos who are taking over the nest.
As Elliot battles one horrendous event after another, Mark Edwards makes us live and feel his horror and desperation in a story that is all the more shocking for the way it penetrates everything we hold dear – our home, our privacy and the bliss we need to feel when we shut our front door behind us.
Elliot is the subject of a home invasion and pretty soon he’s engaged in a twisted battle of wills that can only end very badly.
Mark Edwards does a great line in twisted, suspenseful domestic noir in which murder and other repugnant crimes are never far away. At the end of his tether, Elliot will either have to succumb to the sheer force of the Robinson’s machinations or start to fight back. Edwards has created a tense and dramatic murder mystery that leads in a direction I just did not see coming.
Verdict: A twisted, suspenseful, domestic noir that strikes at the heart of the middle class love of home and hearth in leafy West Dulwich.
Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers in which scary things happen to ordinary people.
He has sold over two million books since his first novel, The Magpies, was published in 2013, and has topped the bestseller lists several times. His other novels include Follow You Home, The Retreat, In Her Shadow, Because She Loves Me, The Devil’s Work and The Lucky Ones. He has also co-authored six books with Louise Voss.
Originally from Hastings in East Sussex, Mark now lives in Wolverhampton with his wife, their children, two cats and a golden retriever.