Review: The Beresford

Will Carver – The Beresford (Blog Tour)

The Beresford author Will Carver

Published by Orenda Books, paperback £8.99. I received a proof copy of the novel from the publisher for review purposes. Many thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

First, the official blurb: 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…

There are many brilliant, boundary-pushing crime writers out there, and then there’s Will Carver, who has the most singular imagination – and the skill to put stunning ideas down on paper in a form that leaves readers gasping for breath. I first encountered him via his first novel with Orenda Books, Good Samaritans, and was so gobsmacked by it I couldn’t find the words to tell people how brilliant I thought it was and why they should read it. This is a recurring theme when trying to describe his books, but I’m giving it another go here.

The Beresford is an old apartment building; every city has one and no-one takes much notice of them – but after reading this, if you spot one you will notice, and wonder. Abe Scwartz is dealing with a tricky problem: how to dispose of the body of his neighbour, Sythe, in the 60 seconds before landlady Mrs May opens the front door to a new tenant. As Abe moves the body, Blair moves in, delighted to finally be escaping her suffocatingly nice small town life and her suffocatingly nice parents. She has no idea what she is stepping into when she carries her boxes across the threshold of The Beresford.

Mrs May owns the building, having bought it after her husband died. She’s always around, welcomes the new tenants and looks after things in all sorts of ways. She knows everything about the building and its many inhabitants over the years. She has her little rituals – cold coffee in the morning, a siesta, plenty of wine later in the day. And she has some other little rituals that are rather less wholesome…

Abe didn’t mean to kill Sythe, he lost himself in the moment and then it was too late. And once it was done, there was no thought to calling the police, the deed just had to be covered up (I hope the police never see Carver’s internet search history if he researched Abe’s methods!). Bad decisions never lead to lovely, happy futures in crime fiction, and The Beresford is not a novel that goes against that convention – but the way it plays out is definitely not conventional.

I’m not going to say anything more about the plot, other than that it’s twisty, tricksy, blackly funny in places and has plenty to say about the troubles of modern life and society. The chapters are short and snappy, giving us the story in glimpses of the inhabitants and their hopes for their lives, for everyone arrives at The Beresford at a turning point, whether they realise it or not. The fast switching between viewpoints keeps the reader on their toes, and also leads to that fatal “just one more” syndrome, where you look up and suddenly you’ve lost an hour in the pages.

Like The Beresford itself, Carver’s novels suck people in and don’t let go easily – Good Samaritans has been rattling round in the back of my head for five years now, and I don’t anticipate The Beresford leaving me alone either. I swear I could hear an evil cackling laugh from Mr Carver’s direction was I was reading…

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 11, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and TV 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. Hinton Hollow Death Trip (2020) was longlisted for the Not the Booker Prize. Nothing Important Happened Today (2019) was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year and for the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell. Good Samaritans (2018) was a book of the year in the Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts.

You can follow the author on Twitter here: @will_carver

Don’t forget to check out all the other reviews on the blog tour!

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