From the author of Child 44, soon to be a major film starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and Gary Oldman, comes an intricately-knitted thriller in the vein of John Le Carre's APerfect Spy.
Daniel believed that his parents were enjoying a peaceful retirement on a remote farm in Sweden, the country of his mother's birth. But with a single phone call, everything changes.
Your mother... she's not well, his father tells him. She's been imagining things - terrible, terrible things.In fact, she has been committed to a mental hospital.
Before Daniel can board a plane to Sweden, his mother calls: Everything that man has told you is a lie. I'm not mad... I need the police... Meet me at Heathrow.
Presented with a horrific crime, a conspiracy that implicates his own father, Daniel must examine the evidence and decide: who is telling the truth, his mother or his father? And he has secrets of his own that for too long he has kept hidden...
Reading Group Guide
Join our mailing list! Plus get our latest book recommendations, author news, and competitions right to your inbox.
1. We first meet Daniel’s mother, who is in a distressed state, at the airport in London. What are your first impressions of Tilde?
2. Throughout the novel the primary narration shifts from Daniel to Tilde and back again. Why do you think the author did this, rather than retaining Daniel as the main narrator of the whole story?
3. As he listens to the differing accounts of his mother and father, Daniel is forced to question their convictions. What would you do if you were faced with the same predicament?
4. Daniel’s father Chris believes Tilde is suffering a psychotic episode. Are there points in the novel that make you believe this diagnosis, and conversely, make you wonder if Tilde’s claims are true?
5. What role does the landscape, particularly the Swedish landscape, play in the novel?
6. Daniel refers to growing up with to the mythology of trolls. What do these details and images add to the book?
7. How do you think what happened to Freja in the summer of 1963 effected Tilde?
8. Do your opinions of Chris, Tilde and Håkan change throughout the novel, and how?
9. What was your reaction to the scene where Chris and Tilde are picking mushrooms?
10. Why do you think the author included the story of The Princess Troll towards the end of the book?
11. Like his parents, Daniel is also keeping a secret. Do you think it’s ever OK to keep secrets within a family?
12. What do you think about the way the novel ends? Were you satisfied and were all of your questions answered?
Tom Rob Smith is the author of the acclaimed Child 44 trilogy. Child 44 itself was a global publishing sensation, selling over two million copies. It was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Prize and won the CWA Steel Dagger Award. His most recent novel, The Farm, was a #1 international bestseller. Tom also writes for television and won a Writer’s Guild Award for best adapted series and an Emmy and Golden Globe for best limited series with American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace. He is also the creator and executive producer of FX’s suspense thriller series Class of ’09.