The Farm by Tom Rob Smith
Grand Central Publishing
June 3, 2014
If you refuse to believe me, I will no longer consider you my son.
Tom Rob Smith is a great storyteller. Hie first novel, Child 44, was an amazing work of fiction that won much critical acclaim, including the Thriller Award. He completed that trilogy with two other excellent books: The Secret Speech and Agent 6. The Farm is another great story.
From a technical, writerly point of view, this is an interesting work. A small story with big themes, it is essentially told entirely in narrative form—-yet it reads like action, dialog, and all the other elements of storytelling. The first 80% is essentially a mother telling her son a story. Don’t let that fool you. The story races along and once you begin, you can’t put it down. That’s great writing.
Daniel is preping for a trip from London to rural Sweden to visit his parents, Chris and Tilde, on their new farm. He has put off the trip to avoid telling his family of his lover Mark. A relationship he is sure they will not approve of. But when his father calls, saying the his mother is ill, mentally ill, he must now make the trek he has avoided. But before he can climb on his flight, he receives a message from his father that Tilde has left the mental hospital and is headed to London. And indeed she arrives.
Back in his apartment, Daniel does the listening, his “mum” Tilde the telling. And what a tale. A story of child abuse, betrayal, and murder. A conspiracy involving the rich and powerful and even his father. But is it true? Could it all have really happened as Tilde describes? Is his mother insane as so many say, including his father.
As the “telling” unfolds, the reader will be whiplashed back and forth. Is the evidence Tilde posses in her satchel proof of unspeakable crimes or are they meaningless bits that are only evidence in his mother’s mind?
This story will stay with you long after you read the final page.