As my status update indicates, I finished Tom Rob Smith's fourth novel this morning. While the book's not a total bore, I'm glad I borrowed and didn't buy The Farm (2014).

 

I eagerly began this standalone novel, billed as a Scandinavian psychological thriller, after eagerly devouring Smith's "Leo Devidov trilogy" of historical fiction novels: Child 44 (2008), The Secret Speech (2009), and Agent 6 (2011). Sad to have completed that series and keen to read more of Smith's work, I happily turned next to The Farm, skipping past the next of James Rollins' action adventure thrillers, which were next in queue.

 

In contrast to the Devidov books, I found much of The Farm lugubrious and weird. Moreover, I didn't have an abundance of respect for the protagonist and wondered why his older, more established lover had hung in there with him so long. I also wondered, more than once, how long Smith would string out the ambiguity about the main female character's sanity. This was not, after all, positioned as a ghost story a la Henry James' Gothic novella, The Turn of the Screw (1898), though at times it read like one.

 

You, reading this post, may question why I hung in there with this book, which I clearly didn't love.  Answers:

  • After enjoying the Leo Devidov trilogy, I was inclined to give this author the benefit of the doubt
  • The Farm received some excellent reviews from sources I trust (though it was poorly regarded by some Goodreads reviewers)
  • The Farm is based on some of the author's autobiographical experiences, which added to the book's appeal
  • I found interesting some passages, in addition to some issues the book raised
  • After a certain point, I was keen to learn what the outcome would be, even though the journey getting there wasn't always satisfying