Just outside the city – any city, every city – is a grand, spacious but affordable apartment building called The Beresford.
There’s a routine at The Beresford.
For Mrs May, every day’s the same: a cup of cold, black coffee in the morning, pruning roses, checking on her tenants, wine, prayer and an afternoon nap. She never leaves the building. Abe Schwartz also lives at The Beresford. His housemate Smythe no longer does. Because Abe just killed him. In exactly sixty seconds, Blair Conroy will ring the doorbell to her new home and Abe will answer the door. They will become friends. Perhaps lovers.
And, when the time comes for one of them to die, as is always the case at The Beresford, there will be sixty seconds to move the body before the next unknowing soul arrives at the door. Because nothing changes at The Beresford, until the doorbell rings..
Firstly let me just say one thing – don’t get too attached to the characters, they may not be around long enough. Apart from Mrs May that is. She is about a hundred years old. She never leaves the building. Her day is always the same. She drinks cold coffee in the morning, wine in the day, takes an afternoon nap, prunes the roses and lies in the bath until “her wrinkles have wrinkles”.
I loved this book. The dark humour is hilarious, but I admit that I did wince at the matter of fact way in which the killings and disposal of the bodies are portrayed. Let’s just say I winced a lot. For instance, Abe has to dispose of artist Sythe’s body.
“Abe did not want to dig. Like all good millennials, he wanted the greatest possible outcome for the least amount of effort”.
Having Googled how serial killers dispose of a dead body, Abe decides he needs to get rid of the fingerprints first, so he chops off the fingers (and toes for good measure) using Mrs May’s rose-pruning secateurs, and dissolves them in the basin (the digits not the secateurs) using drain cleaner. Mrs May wonders where all the drain cleaner went. The body or the rest of it anyway, is still in the bath. Problem – where does Abe spit after cleaning his teeth?
We never find out much about Abe’s childhood, only his university days, but we find out a lot about Blair’s religious upbringing. She comes to The Beresford to escape her parents. It’s not that she doesn’t love them – she does – but they drive her mad. It’s all about loving God and Jesus. She’s had enough. She wants her freedom. She wants to lie in on Sunday mornings instead of going to Church. I was fond of Blair and I followed her parents’ story with interest.
Gail has escaped an abusive husband. She married a wonderful man but when he came back from the war, he took to drinking, raping her and beating her up. She knows that next time he will kill her, so she runs away and moves in to The Beresford. But someone has to die first. Then the killer has sixty seconds to get rid of the body before the doorbell rings. And so it goes on.
One thing I love about this story is that it could be set anywhere. Sometimes you think you are in New York, sometimes in London. The war could be any war – Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. The men come back unable to deal with the dreadful things they’ve seen and they don’t get help. They turn to alcohol and sometimes they beat their wives.
As well as being a very clever concept, The Beresford is full of musings and philosophising on what people really want and how far they will go to get it. Something in that house makes them go farther than they ever thought themselves capable of. And there’s always the age old question – where do you hide the bodies?
Many thanks to @annecater for inviting me to be part of #RandomThingsTours.
About the Author
Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Will’s latest title published by Orenda Books, Hinton Hollow Death Trip was longlisted for the Not the Booker Prize, while Nothing Important Happened Today was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year and for the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell. Good Samaritans was a book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express, and hit number one on the eBook charts.
Orenda Books is a small independent publishing company specialising in literary fiction with a heavy emphasis on crime/thrillers, and approximately half the list in translation. They’ve been twice shortlisted for the Nick Robinson Best Newcomer Award at the IPG awards, and publisher and owner Karen Sullivan was a Bookseller Rising Star in 2016. In 2018, they were awarded a prestigious Creative Europe grant for their translated books programme. Three authors, including Agnes Ravatn, Matt Wesolowski and Amanda Jennings have been WHSmith Fresh Talent picks, and Ravatn’s The Bird Tribunal was shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award, won an English PEN Translation Award, and adapted for BBC Radio Four ’s Book at Bedtime. Six titles have been short- or long-listed for the CWA Daggers. Launched in 2014 with a mission to bring more international literature to the UK market, Orenda Books publishes a host of debuts, many of which have gone on to sell millions worldwide, and looks for fresh, exciting new voices that push the genre in new directions. Bestselling authors include Ragnar Jonasson, Antti Tuomainen, Gunnar Staalesen, Michael J. Malone, Kjell Ola Dahl, Louise Beech, Johana Gustawsson, Lilja Sigurðardóttir and Sarah Stovell.