Friday, August 3, 2018

Come Over to OUR HOUSE!


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HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Okay, Okay, I know I didn’t actually discover Louise Candlish, or her new book OUR HOUSE. But I will confess I’d never heard of her. Yes, I am cringing now with that admission.

 
Still, I must say there’s a special joy in finding a new-to-me writer who is an absolute gem. A gem! And OUR HOUSE? I could not put it down. Truly, it’s amazing.  From the very opening pages, I wondered—how on earth is she going to pull this off? And she did!  (It comes out in the US on August 7.)

I was so delighted she agreed to an interview. Because now you get to know about her, too.

HANK: Do you remember the first time you loved a book? Where were you and what were you reading? How did that change your life?

And hurray--Louise is giving a copy of OUR HOUSE to one lucky commenter! (US only please...) 

LOUISE CANDLISH: I was an obsessive Agatha Christie fan from about the age of twelve and I remember very clearly reading Death on the Nile. I was lying on my bed in the room I shared with my sister. We were both bookworms. The story was mind-blowingly exotic to me (I'd never left the UK) and totally fiendish and unguessable in its plotting. I think it opened my eyes to the wider world, both in terms of the places I might travel to and in the possibilities of human behaviour.

HANK: Oh, we had the same experience! But for me it was Murder on the Orient Express. I remember thinking--wait--how did she do that? And was fascinated with the architecture of the mystery--how the writers could completely surprise the reader.  She made me be want to be a writer--or a detective! So as an investigative reporter and a crime fiction author, I became a little of each.  Did you always plan to be involved with books and writing?

LOUISE:  At university, I hoped for a career in media, though I didn't expect to become a novelist. That ambition came later, when I had something to say. I think you need to have lived and had a variety of experiences before you can hope to construct a 100,000-word work of fiction that has the ring of truth to even a single reader. I worked as a copywriter for as spell: it was nothing like Mad Men, sadly. 

HANK: You know, interesting-I had a writer pal, who started her career much earlier in her life and is now on novel, maybe number 25, say she wishes I had started when she did. And I said no--I wasn't the person I am now, I couldn't have written a novel 25 years ago.
So tell us about Our House—the main character comes home and finds someone else moving in—and this person says she’s bought the house! Problem is, Fiona hasn’t sold it.  Whoa. Where did that come from? It’s so brilliant.

LOUISE: Thank you!  The idea began with a news feature I read in the Daily Mail about a woman whose house was almost stolen by a criminal gang. The article – or one like it – is actually mentioned in Our House.  I wanted to tackle the impact of the inflated property market, and the way it has altered our relationship with our homes. I also wanted to explore cybercrime.

I was interested, too,  in bird’s nest custody, a new and trendy parenting arrangement for separated couples. On an emotional level, I was interested in the way we can unravel mentally, so quickly, any one of us.
   
HANK: Funny--one of my books, TRUTH BE TOLD, is about the housing crisis-- and what really happens behind the closed doors of all those foreclosed homes. That was inspired by investigative stories I've done about mortgage banking and real estate schemes. And I thought--how far would you go to save your home? So again--we're like writing sisters. (I'm the older sister, I know...) 

Anyway. OUR HOUSE. And I love the structure! You use a podcast, and a Word doc as well as narrative. And it works so well! (Yes, I know, I am gushing.)  Tell us how and why you decided to handle it with those wonderful "extras"!

Photo credit: Jonny Ring
 LOUISE: Thank you! I'm a big podcast fan and, in a current bout of insomnia, turn to podcasts and audiobooks and radio drama in the dead of night. Interviews are the most intense of all: you have the voice and the emotion, but no visuals, so the listener plays an active part in making the speaker real. I wanted Fi's story to be very direct and persuasive. Bram's Word document, a soul-bearing, stream-of-consciousness confession, represents his isolation. He's pouring it all out, but will anyone ever read it?


HANK: I learned something new today--the phrase "grip-lit." I'd never heard that before---but it was used in describing your books as well as other psychological suspense. I love it! Your books have been called addictive, twisty, masterfully plotted. So, here's an easy question: how do you do that? Okay, who knows. But how much do you know about the plot when you start?

LOUISE: 'Grip-lit' was coined by the writer Marian Keyes, I think - I love it! OUR HOUSE has also been called crib lit, crib noir, and property porn lit - very funny! I began with a fairly loose plot to get the two voices going, then after about 20,000 words, I plotted quite tightly. The interweaving of the different narratives was refined over five or six drafts, with a lot of help from my wonderful editor at Berkley. The problem with a structure this complex is that one small alteration made at a later stage has an agonising ripple effect and you have to go backwards and forwards to catch the ripples.

HANK: Oh, yes, indeed.  I outlined TRUST ME like mad along the way—not in advance, but as I went. If I hadn’t, I was sure to lose a thread, or miss a loose end. But wow, OUR HOUSE surprised until the very last page!  Are you coming to the US?  That would be terrific!

LOUISE: I very much hope so, though no date is set yet. I can't wait to meet my publishing team and all those - like you - who've been so supportive of OUR HOUSE. A transatlantic debut is a scary and exciting thing, it depends on the kindness of strangers for a safe passage!

HANK: Awww. Well, we are all here to welcome you and host you—all over the country!  Readers, there’s a time zone problem today, but any questions for Louise? And we will get them to her.  But how about podcasts—do you listen to them?  

And a copy of OUR HOUSE to one very lucky commenter!


Just for fun--the UK cover!

There's nothing unusual about a new family moving in at 91 Trinity Avenue. Except it's her house. And she didn't sell it.
When Fiona Lawson comes home to find strangers moving into her house, she's sure there's been a mistake. She and her estranged husband, Bram, have a modern coparenting arrangement: bird's nest custody, where each parent spends a few nights a week with their two sons at the prized family home to maintain stability for their children. But the system built to protect their family ends up putting them in terrible jeopardy. In a domino effect of crimes and misdemeanors, the nest comes tumbling down.
Now Bram has disappeared and so have Fiona's children. As events spiral well beyond her control, Fiona will discover just how many lies her husband was weaving and how little they truly knew each other. But Bram's not the only one with things to hide, and some secrets are best kept to oneself, safe as houses.



Courtesy: Jonny Ring
Louise Candlish was born in Hexham, Northumberland, and grew up in the Midlands town of Northampton. She studied English at University College London and lives in Herne Hill in South London with her husband and daughter. She is the author of twelve novels, including THE SWIMMMING POOL  and OTHER PEOPLE’S SECRETS, and her brand new thriller. OUR HOUSE, a hardback bestseller and now an ebook #1 bestseller. It will be published  August 7 in US (Berkley).

Louise's novel The Sudden Departure of the Frasers (2015) has been optioned for TV by Hartswood Films.

Besides books, the things Louise likes best are: coffee; TV; cats and dogs; salted caramel; France (especially the Ile de Re); Italy (especially Sicily); tennis; soup; Vanity Fair magazine; 'Book at Bedtime'; lasagne; heavy metal; 'The Archers'; driving towards the sea (but not into it); anything at the Royal Opera House; white wine; Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (or, failing that, a Starbar). 


84 comments:

  1. It’s interesting that so many of us claim an Agatha Christie book as one that was particularly meaningful for us as readers. Louise, “Our House” has been on my must-read list for a while now so I’m really looking forward to reading it. Can you tell us a bit more about the story?
    I must confess that I don’t regularly listen to podcasts . . . .

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    1. ‘Joan, which is your favorite Agatha Christie?

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    2. It’s a toss-up between “Murder on the Orient Express” and “And Then There Were None.”

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  2. Welcome Louise! Now Louise is on my TBR list too--thanks for introducing us to her Hank! So funny about Agatha Christie--I don't have a certain book of hers that I remember as my touchstone. But I was such a late bloomer too!

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    1. When you read them now, they are still really great! It’s funny how our memories of them are somewhat colored by the movies… But the books are surprising and fantastic

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  3. I too am a HUGE fan of Our House. If I wasn't running so behind on reviews, this one would already be posted, but I swear, it's coming as soon as possible - likely after I travel to Boston to see the Jungle Reds, alas.

    JRW fans, don't miss this book!

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    1. Can’t wait to see you! Yes, the premise So risky, right? But she really manages it beautifully.

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  4. Louise, it's lovely to see that OUR HOUSE is having a great reception in the US. It is a perfectly pitched suspense novel that puts London's anxiety-inducing property market centre stage. There was so much about that this book that rang true––the matriarchal force behind Trinity Avenue, the obsession with postcode, the omnipresence of alcohol, over-scheduled children, absent fathers etc etc. Fiona Lawson seems to have been living a life strangely in sync with mine up to the point when she comes home to find her house has been sold without her permission and both her husband and children are missing. It is a fantastic read. Highly recommend.

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    1. Hi Karen! So fabulous to see you here… Hooray! So there really is a Trinity Avenue? Is the scoop!
      My step kids and our grandchildren live on Park slope in Brooklyn, I wonder if it’s similar…

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    2. Hello, Hank. Not a scoop! I'm fairly certain Alder Rise and Trinity Avenue are fictitious but it is a similar neighbourhood to where I live in Bedford Park.

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    3. Now I really have to read it, Karin!

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  5. Fascinating stuff, and I'm also adding the book to my TBR pile! I don't listen to podcasts, either, alas. When I read birds nest custody, I realized I already knew what that was - a friend and his wife used it some years ago (and later got back together). I think it would be really hard to pull off for the parents. Best of luck with the US debut, Louise.

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  6. Louise, welcome to Jungle Red! Our house sounds so good and so creepy! Did you have to do research into the London real estate market or were you able to go with what you knew? What are you working on these days? Congrats on the US release!

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    1. Yes, it sounds like it’s incredibly authentic! It really makes you feel as if you know it… But I bet it’s a different read for Londoners than for us. But no less riveting!

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  7. This book sounds fascinating. It has been so long since I've read an Agatha Christie book I really need to start rereading some. And I love the term grip-lit! I'd never heard it before either, but it seems so fitting.

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    1. Great! New to me too! And soon, I bet, it will be in the lexicon, right?

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  8. What an interesting premise. And cybercrime doesn't get more personal than when they go after your home. And there are plenty of scams aimed at the elderly, looking for a stable income stream, that are essentially that. I reread Agatha Christie recently -- fresh, smart funny, it holds up.

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    1. Agreed! Very droll and knowing, don’t you think?

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  9. This sounds amazing! Are all the books available in the US? My oldest daughter listens to podcasts all the time and shares them with me. Some are simply the most hilarious things I have ever heard.

    I remember one summer. I was reading Gone With the Wind. My mother said I had to go to the pool with the family. So I took the book and lay on the concrete and got a horrible sunburn!

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    1. Oh, so funny how certain books bring back memories. Some books you can’t put down, right?

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  10. How about you all? Do you have a favorite Agatha Christie?

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  11. I feel so privileged that I've already read OUR HOUSE. And was delighted to see the interview with Louise here. Perfect timing. My review of it was up yesterday.

    https://kaysreadinglife.blogspot.com/2018/08/our-house-louise-candlish.html

    I read a lot of the newer 'domestic noir' or 'grip lit' (love that) and I will admit that I have to put some other books in between in order to avoid burnout. I did think that OUR HOUSE had some fresh angles and most interesting twists. I'm glad(?) to know that this is a real possibility. Isn't that scary to think about? It did make me want to run and find all of Louise's other books and read them. So I shall!

    Agatha Christie - I love so many of her books. I have definite favorites though and if I had to pick a most favorite (right now anyway), it would be SLEEPING MURDER, the last Miss Marple. I love that one. I'll just say 'monkey paws'. If you've read it, you'll understand and shiver.

    Louise, thanks so much for writing such a page turner! Good luck with all your writing and you've got a fan in me!

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    1. SO great, Kay! And yes--Louise says it COULD actually happen! Isn't that amazing-and terrifying?

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    2. And 'monkey paws'--I haven't thought of that in YEARS!

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  12. I'm with you Hank, I love meeting a new to me author. Thanks for this wonderful introduction. A pod-what????

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    1. Ha ha. But I am always baffled about how to listen to podcasts. I am not a fan of walking-down-the-street-with-earbuds listening.

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    2. I'm a visual person. I find that my attention tends to wander when I try to listen to a podcast. Oh look!!! A shiny object.

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  14. Louise, what an intriguing idea! I just pre-ordered Our Houses and can hardly wait to read it!

    I share your love of podcasts and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. :)

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    1. Ug. Sorry about the over use of exclamation points.

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    2. Never too many! Except in books. xoo

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  15. Welcome Louise, and I look forward to reading all your books. My eyes played a trick on me when reading your list of likes, and I thought you said "tennis soup." Twice. What's not to love?

    My favorite Agatha Christie, bar none, is what is now known, after many expurgated titles, as AND THEN THERE WERE NONE. THE MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS is a close second. I was about nine when I discovered Ms. Christie, and I've read everyone of her books at least twice. Just as all the rest of you have I bet.

    I'm so glad the term "cozy" hadn't been invented or I might have missed an extraordinary experience. We had something of a house party last weekend, friends from Philadelphia and New Hampshire from Friday 'til Monday.

    No murders but I think it came close once or twice.

    All are readers, and Julie and I relayed our delight at going to mystery writer conferences, all both of them so far. At one point we were asked what a cozy was. We said it was a book that didn't contain the work f**k. And the dog doesn't die.

    Simplistic I know, and probably not accurate.

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    1. Yup, that'd cover it! :-)
      And what's the term for a weekend party like that? Like--a Friday-to-Monday?

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  16. Grateful that Blogger and Google have”welcomed” me back after several days of disappearing comments! Our House sounds fascinating. It’s on “the list”.
    Agatha Christie and Miss Marple filled so many summer days as I moved to “adult” reading iin jr high and high school. All of the Miss Marple mysteries are my favorites with “Body in the Library” at the top.
    My podcast experience is mainly in the archive genre — last week’s of the week before of a NPR favorite that I missed live.
    Happy Reading Weekend, All.

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    1. You too, ELisabeth! And thank you for fighting the battle!

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  17. Apologies for typos. I’m “allowed” to publish, but not preview! ;-(

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  18. Our House sounds intriguing and unique. I do listen to podcasts which are very worthwhile and interesting. The Agatha Christie mysteries are my favorite reading during the winter and so enjoyable.

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    1. Oh, yes, that's perfect timing for a good Agatha!

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  19. Fascinating premise, but I can understand how it happens. In NYC, it would be a rent-controlled apartment.

    My favorite Agatha is At Bertram's Hotel.

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  20. A captivating novel which I look forward to enjoying. This new novel is addictive and thrilling. I read all of Daphne DuMaurier novels which held me spellbound.

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    1. Oh, yes, another master of the genre! And a teacher to us all..

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  21. Oh, gee; trying to pick my favorite Christie is like asking someone "who is your favorite child?" Now I'm thinking I should just re-read all of them.

    Louise, I'm very much interested in reading Our House. Many years ago I worked for a law firm that had clients who were about to make a deposit on a house that turned out not to belong to the "seller". The attorney in our office who represented them had a "gut" feeling that something was wrong. Our clients ended up not losing any money. However, the so-called seller had gotten away with "selling" houses to other couples who found out they didn't own their homes when the absentee owners showed up. He went to jail.

    I've never listened to a podcast and have no idea how to go about doing it!

    DebRo

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    1. SO interesting, DebRo! Whoa. And yeah, I did another story once about a guy who was just selling property--that he didn't own! I still get holiday cards from the family who I saved from buying a house that wasn't his to sell...

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  22. Favorite Christie? Oooff! Bertram's Hotel, Nemesis, And then There Were None, Crooked House (creepy!). Here's a scary true story--visiting my dad in Wethersfield, CT one Saturday afternoon, about 15 years ago. Notice the giant moving company van parked across the street. Yeah, Dad says, I didn't even know the house was for sale! I guess they've already moved out! He calls me a week later--turns out the neighbors (very quiet people, always kept to themselves, says Dad) hadn't moved. They were just on VACATION and ROBBED of every stitch in their house! So, houses, so much potential for plot!

    -Melanie

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    1. NO WAY!! Amazing. Terrifying. WHOa. SO brazen!

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  23. Welcome to a fellow Brit! I too devoured Christie when I was about 12.
    And a strange thing happened to me with my first house. We had moved in for about a month. I was upstairs, putting things away and I heard footsteps downstairs. I crept down and a realtor was showing people around! Quite unnerving.

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    1. I told them I had bought the house a month ago and they went!

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  24. My favorite Agatha Christie is And Then There Were None--grip-lit for sure! Louise, your book sounds absolutely intriguing, and I have already put it on my TBR list. I see that it is in the catalogs of both of the libraries I frequent, but of course, I'd rather win my own copy! Best of luck with this book.

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    1. I remember reading that for the first time--she totally got me!

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  25. This novel sounds absolutely amazing! I laughed out loud with delight and surprise at the short synopsis. Cannot wait to read this!

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    1. Exactly--and as a writer, doesn't it seem like there's no way to make that plot work? But she does!

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  26. Fabulous - Can't wait to read this book.

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  27. This book sounds so good, can't wait to read it. It's corny but I think I was in about 3rd grade when I realized there was such a thing as a library both at school and in town and I could have all the books I wanted.

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  28. Hi Louise, and welcome to Jungle Red! I'm so happy that Hank discovered you and introduced you to us.

    Although I started reading Christie at about the same age as everyone else, and love the classic titles, I have a weird favorite. It's called They Came to Bagdad, and I still own my original hardcover. This is a little more in the romantic suspense/spy thriller vein (would have made a great Mary Higgins Clark award winner, if such a thing had been invented) and it highlights Christie's love of the Middle East. Great fun if you can find a copy. (Which you can--I just checked and it's available in paperback and on Kindle.)

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    1. Oh, I've never read that! Wonder if kindle will have a big rush on it now...xoxo

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  29. Sounds like a super book I really want to read! I had never heard the term 'birds nest custody' but thinking about it I had an idea what it was. And I was right! Of course now there's a term for everything.
    Putting Our House on my list.

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    1. True! I had never heard of it, either--but it's all explained in the book. SO fascinating!

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  30. Two new titles for my TBR list, Our House and They Came to Baghdad. Louise, I can’t wait for your U.S. tour! Welcome, in advance!

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  31. >>Louise Candlish<< is reading everything! But is having a hard time commenting from the UK--so she just emailed with this!

    Thank you all for such a wonderful warm welcome - and a great interview, Hank! Let the Agatha Christie love roll - there are so many classics that writers cite as The One. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is another - required reading for all mystery writers.
    Lovely to see you here, Karen! I'm used to people asking if Trinity Avenue exists - and if I live there - but it's really a composite of lots of leafy streets in the posh and almost-posh suburbs of London.

    In terms of research, I am a property obsessive, so I already knew a lot about the London property market, but I did research the fraud element and triple-check the legal facts. I last bought a house 15 years ago and the system has moved online since then - hence the vulnerability of both buyers and sellers to fraudsters.

    I'm really looking forward to seeing US readers reaction to the book. It's gone down a storm in the UK - people find it very scary! It's so plausible - one of those 'there but for the grace of god' situations, I suppose. You hold your house keys just a bit closer after you've read it.

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  32. Oh I definitely want to read this one! I do listen to podcasts, but I haven't as much time as I'd like. I do love Wait Wait Don't Tell Me and Ask Me Another, though. I usually get to at least listen to those. Oh! And UpFirst every morning.

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  33. Gosh. Our House is a must read now. What a multilayered premise! I've heard of people booking vacation rentals online and then discovering, when they show up, it was all a con. Bird nest custody sounds expensive and complicated. I mean you are dealing with three households now: yours, his, and the kids'. I've never listened to podcasts. I have trouble just sitting and listening. I can listen to books when we're on a road trip, but that's it.

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    1. Yes, happens ALL the time, Pat D! We did a story once about a homeowner who actually put up a sign on his home, "NOT A RENTAL" because so many people were showing up!

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  34. Wow, the concept for this one is intriguing! What would you do if someone showed up to move into your house?

    I'm another Murder on the Orient Express fan, that was my "how did she DO that?" book. I went back to find the clues when I got to the end because I just couldn't believe it.

    Mary/Liz

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    1. If someone showed up? I'd tell them it was their turn to load the dishwasher. xoo
      And exactly! I did, too!

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  35. A new (to me) author to look forward to reading. Sounds like an exciting blend of 21st century technology and suspense, but as I scare rather easily.... this book will be gripping daytime reading only!

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    1. It's not really scary, as that the premise is chilling. SO no worries! xoo

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  36. Just wanted to add to Louise that I love the UK cover!

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    1. Oh, agreed! And such fun to think about why each one did what they did..

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  37. As has happened so many time here on Jungle Reds, I see a book that intrigues me and it is then featured on the Jungle Reds blog. How much I owe to my authors and friends here for bringing great reading to me. And now, Our House and Louise Candlish are here, and I have a new book to add to my TBR list and wish list. I rather feel validated that this fascinating book caught my eye and Hank's as well. Louise, congratulations on your new book. Sounds like it's going to be a big hit.

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    1. Can't wait to hear what you think, dear Kathy!

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  38. I'm really intrigued how the podcast fits into the story.
    I listen to podcasts here & there, but I'm not a subscriber/regular listener of any.

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  39. Thank-you @Hallie for sharing Jungle Red Writers on your FB feed, I feel there is a sorority about you ladies, or a dark room with a crystal ball..no change that to seance. Congratulations to Louise Candlish for feeding our insatiable appetite for creepy instances where the norm becomes meshed with fiction writing in her tale OUR HOUSE. Strangers moving into your house sounds alarming until the real horror of a missing child is now before the reader. If written well most readers will be madly flipping to find Fiona’s lost sons with some serious nerves and anxiety. Buyer beware, wine stains will be detected by the next reader.

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  40. I have listened to podcasts, but not on a regular basis. I am really intrigued by OUR HOUSE, especially the idea of "bird's nest custody." I think the book that put me on the road to being a reader was THE SECRET GARDEN. My mother gave it to me because it was one of her very favorite books, and when she saw how much I loved it, she gave me her Nancy Drew collection from when she was a girl. These gifts made me a reader for life ~

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  41. I remember loving books since grade school. First it was Little House, but then I discovered Nancy Drew and mystery became my favorite. I'm showing my age when I tell you I was also a fan of Trixie Belden and her violet-eyed friend Diana. I remember discovering Gone With The Wind in Junior High and not being able to put it down until I was finished. I love reading the recommendations here on Jungle Red. Our House will definitely be on my list.

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  42. AND THE WINNER IS: MELANIE BODIN! Email me your address ,and Louise will send you your book! (US only, are you US??) . Email me at h ryan at whdh dot com with the subject OUR HOUSE!

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