The Farm
Tom Rob Smith
Grand Central Publishing 2014
368 pages

Its film rights already sold, The Farm is an intriguing new mystery by Tom Rob Smith. Smith is also the author of one of my all-time favorite novels Child 44

Very interesting and exciting from the get-go, it plunges deeply into the secrets and lies of the family of Daniel and his parents Tilde and Chris, who have blissfully retired to Sweden.  The Farm Kindle at Amazon   

All illusions are shattered when Daniel receives a call from his uncharacteristically hysterical father who is distraught that Tilde is not only missing, but psychotic.  She is seriously ill and in need of treatment..

Shortly after, an already stunned Daniel hears from his lucid-sounding mother who wishes him to meet       her at Heathrow.

It turns out that now pitted against each other, both parents together have already deceived Daniel.  Caught in the middle, harbouring deep secrets of his own, he does not know who to believe.

Tilde is definitely not herself, but she has been hurt, victimized, and accused by people she believes to be her enemies, including her own husband.  Terrified of the consequences, she has first-hand knowledge of their heinous crimes.

Daniel decides to be as open-minded as possible, and hear his mother’s story of accusations, and evaluate her evidence objectively, before taking action.  Time is of the essence, since Tilde believes that contrary to what he has told his son, Chris will be arriving in London in hot pursuit, with commitment  on the agenda.

Thus begins a very engaging novel:  Tilde’s scrupulously documented tale of her brief but not so bucolic retirement in Sweden, her struggle to fit in, her wilful exclusion and discrediting by the powerful local ring leader and his followers, her ultimate disgrace, and the conspiracy to shut her down and dismiss her allegations as simply the rantings of a crazy woman.

Tom Rob Smith expertly plunges the reader into the unknown, where sympathies run deep, and the truth is never truly certain.  A captivating, odd, yet plausible tale unfolds.  You are hooked and compelled to read and discover everything, including that justice is served.

Characters are strong.  Emotions are real.  The story is rife with interesting twists that are delightfully impossible to anticipate.  Odd and unusual circumstances make sense, even from opposing perspectives.  All seems plausible even when the real truth is finally revealed.

The Farm by Tom Rob Smith is ultimately a story of a family that is torn apart, where hope turns to despair and comes full circle.  Although the ending changes the emotional tone, The Farm is strong and well written.  It is definitely recommended as a very good mystery novel and read.