Thursday, June 27, 2013

Safe As Houses by Simone van der Vlugt

While I've been doing fairly well on my challenges this year, readers, I have to admit that I wish I was getting more in the translation vein fitted into my reading week! I have some stacked up right now, waiting patiently, including the one I won from Ellie as part of the challenge: Andrea H. Japp's The Season of the Beast. 

This month my pick for the challenge is Simone van der Vlugt's Safe As Houses, due out from Canongate Books on July 4. This is the third of van der Vlugt's books to be translated into English, and the first from Canongate. It was originally released in 2012 as Blauw Water.

Lisa's day started out just like any other. She made breakfast for her daughter, Anouk, - who is home sick with bronchitis - and was out hanging the laundry when a stranger appeared in her yard. With no where else to turn, Lisa ran for home intending to bar the door. Unfortunately she didn't quite make it and the man barged in behind her. Lisa would soon learn that the man is escaped convict and murderer Mick Kreuger. Now she and Anouk are being held hostage in their own home as Kreuger plans his getaway. A passerby is Lisa's only hope, but even that hope dwindles as time passes by. Now all she can do is try to keep herself and her daughter safe as long as possible. 

Safe As Houses is a tense read! Lisa lies to Kreuger, all the while trying to plan the perfect escape, knowing that she's potentially making things worse. Kreuger is unstable but even Lisa doesn't know quite how bad he is at first. She manages to catch snippets of news reports about his crimes but quickly realizes that as long as he's getting his way, she and her daughter are seemingly ok.

There's a bit of a twist in the story in that someone does witness Kreuger in Lisa's home fairly early on. Senta gets lost on her way home and decides to stop and ask for directions - at Lisa's house. Her story is a secondary one that really ratchets up the intensity of the tale.

As a whole, I found the book to be rather short. It's good for a one-sitting read but I kind of wanted more to sink my teeth into. The translation works really well and the plot, while not terribly unique, works for the story.

Rating: 3.5/4

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