‘The Uninvited’ by Liz Jensen is a mix of a psychological thriller dystopian that will leave you with a fear of salt. Or more specifically, fear of yourself when you crave salt. It starts when a seven-year-old girl puts a nail-gun to her grandmother’s neck and fires, but quickly continues to many more acts of murder and grievous bodily harm – always committed by a child.
Hesketh Lock works for a company that hires out consultants who specifically investigate corporate sabotage – ranging from psychologists to anthropologists. He has Asperger’s Syndrome which makes relationships difficult for him, but his work very easy – without the conflict of being part of the group, he has a talent for spotting patterns. Because of this he’s sent around the world investigating strange occurrences that all start to link together in a very strange way indeed.
It’s interesting though – Hesketh enjoys his work – that is until his own step-son Freddy begins to show the same strange, unexplainable behavior. The one relationship Hesketh understands and clings to is that with the son of his most recent girlfriend, and when Freddy joins the ranks of murderous children, Hesketh has to start making the connections his bosses don’t want to hear about.
The characters in this novel are wide and varied, written in a way where you can understand them quickly and easily. Hesketh’s boss is a bit of a character, and you can see the hesitation and slight frostiness in his ex-girlfriend. The other characters he meets while doing his investigations aren’t acting over-the-top despite what they’ve been through, making this believable and relatable.
Though slow to start, the plot soon demands that you finish the entire book in a day, moving fast yet in an ‘as expected’ way, due to the nature of events. The end slows down to match the slow start, leaving it feeling balanced and again – realistic.
I really enjoy books that help explain mental illness in a way that’s understandable and identifiable. Hesketh’s Asperger’s plays an important part in this novel, and it’s excellent to see it used as a positive – that he’s able to function like anyone else does – interesting way.
Overall I really enjoyed this book – it would have to be one of my favourites for the year, for the straight-forward and believable way of telling.
This review was originally posted at SentientOnline on the 27th August 2012.