Katiebabs is a self-proclaimed present day bluestocking with her head always in a book. She runs her own book blog called Babbling about Books and More!
The Crooked House by Christobel Kent is written in the same vein as Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, but with those two books, which are easy reads and very enjoyable thrillers, The Crooked House is a mess. It's convoluted, confusing, and very trippy, as if the main protagonist is high or drunk most of the time. I don't know if this was intentional, but the writing feels sloppy and unedited, with too many characters to keep track of. Even with the sinister undertones, The Crooked House fails on the delivery with a ho hum ending, even though you won't have any idea the outcome until the last few pages.
13 years ago the 14 year old Alison, who was once Esme, came downstairs from her bedroom to find her entire family murdered- her mother, older brother and twin sisters were shot. Her father did the murders (Or so the police believe), but was left as a vegetable because the shot to his head didn't kill him. Alison was spared because she snuck into her bedroom after leaving a girlfriend's house after some sort of fight. Her aunt took her in, and far away from the town and the crime, hoping Alison would recover. Now as an adult, she appears to be well adjusted. She's dating a lovely man named Paul, who she met at a party.
Paul is invited to the wedding of an ex-girlfriend of sorts. He asks Alison to come as his guest. The kicker is that the wedding is in the same town where Alison's family was murdered. Because Paul doesn't have any clue about Alison's past, she goes with him even though she could have a mental breakdown. As soon as she arrives back in her hometown, her paranoia and suspicions grow. She comes to the conclusion that her father couldn't have murdered her family, and will find the real killer or killers, regardless of the dangers. Alison could get killed if she reveals the secrets of the town so many there want to forget.
The Crooked House has this sinister atmosphere throughout the story, and should have readers on the edge of the seat, but the back and forth between past and present, and the amount of names and faces, including events are thrown out willy nilly. Alison comes across as too spooked and emotionally damaged. She isn't developed at all, making it hard to connect with her. There's also a lot head jumping, and at times over the top dramatics to trick readers into thinking something else is happening. Her relationship with Paul odd. Is he a nice guy or a controlling, manipulative person who may want to harm Alison? We keep circling back to this couple too often, but they're both mundane with their actions and thoughts.
I felt like I had to keep a chart to keep track of things. By the end I was exhausted reading because as things are peeling away and revealed, it seemed complex but it was more along the lines of puzzle pieces thrown together for no rhyme or reason.
A Total Mess would have been a better title.