The Red Door: Book Review

The Red Door Book Review

Stars: 3/5

Blurb: What would you do if you began to suspect one of your tenants could be the perpetrator of a vicious double murder committed over thirty years ago?

It is 1983 and the grand old Victorian mansion ‘Rosalind’, nestled in the inner city village of Glebe, Sydney has been refurbished and converted by the new owner into four apartments, and a coach house in which she lives. Between her obligations as landlady to her odd assortment of tenants, and employment as fashion illustrator for the exclusive magazine Marie Claire, she yearns for a busy but peaceful existence, intent on burying memories from her devastating past.

However, her peace of mind slowly erodes as she begins to believe she is being watched by the mysterious Ahsan in Number Three, a reclusive man who happens to share his surname with the teenage sisters, Zahra and Amirah Billah, victims of a sinister and brutal double murder. Her unwelcome enquiries yield far more questions than answers: What is Mr Ahsan hiding in Number Three? Who was the young man sighted with the beautiful Zahra underneath the Tanglewood Trees? What hold does the vile Monique have over her dear friend Annie and why does this objectionable woman’s name keep cropping up in her investigation? And do the residents of Cambridge Terrace even realise they are being watched?

Her incessant probing begins to unsettle and disturb everyone around her; a fascination with the unsolved crime which becomes obsession – consuming her life, shaking relationships with her newfound friends and leaving a trail of devastation.

This is a spellbinding tale, as much a mystery novel with an immigrant’s tragedy woven into its centre, as a portrait of women who carry dark secrets but also persevere through the strength of friendship.

The Red Door will take hold of your imagination and never let go. 

Two things interested me about this book: that it was set in a Glebe, a corner of Sydney that I have loved forever and that this comes with illustrations, haunting ones in fact.

Madeline, the new owner of Rosalind, is settling in to her new life in Glebe. She’s developing friendships and meeting people, and she’s working on renovating Rosalind, save for apartment 3, which her tenant doesn’t want worked on.

As a result, Madeline is surrounded by a large cast of characters. The positives of this, is that the author works clearly on developing those characters and their presence and purpose in Madeline’s life. And, this cast is unique, funny and endearing and they add to the atmosphere of this story as a whole. They matter to Madeline.

There will be instances, I think when some readers might think too much time had been spent on them, detracting from the tension that a story like this needed in parts. But on the hand, this secondary of characters still does add a wealth of atmosphere to the book and to Madeline, so I am of two minds about them myself.

However, it is an intriguing mystery and Madeline pursues it, determined to find answers. I appreciate that the author does add some diversity to the story, which reflects Sydney as a whole.

An added bonus is the illustrations by Rosa Fedele, who is an acclaimed artist, and includes some wonderful illustrations that add so much to the story.

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