Summary and book reviews of A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan

A Pleasure and a Calling

by Phil Hogan

A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan X
A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2015, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2016, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rory L. Aronsky
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About this Book

Book Summary

In the tradition of Patricia Highsmith's Tom Ripley novels comes a deliciously unsettling tale of psychological suspense that delves into the mind of a man with a chilling double life.

You won't remember Mr. Heming. He was the estate agent who showed you around your comfortable home, suggested a financial package, negotiated a price with the owner, and called you with the good news. The less good news is that, all these years later, he still has the key. That's absurd, you laugh. Of all the many hundreds of houses he has sold, why would he still have the key to mine? The answer is; he has the keys to them all.

William Heming's most at home in a stranger's private things. He makes it his business to know all their secrets, and how they arrange their lives. His every pleasure is in his leafy community. He loves and knows every inch of it, feels nurtured by it, and would defend it - perhaps not with his life but if it came to it, with yours. Things begin to change when Mr. Hemings' obsession shifts from many people to one, and then a dead body winds up in someone's garden. For a man who is used to going unremarked, Mr. Heming's finds his natural routine becomes uncomfortably interrupted.

Excerpt
A Pleasure and A Calling

IF YOU WERE TO put a gun to my head and ask me to explain myself, I suppose I might begin by saying that we are all creatures of habit. But then, you might wonder, what creature of habit is a slave to the habits of others? All I can say is that the habitual is what I love most and am made for; that the best I can do is hang on, have faith, and hope what has lately blown through our unremarkable but well-ordered town will be forgotten and all will be calm again. Right now I feel lucky to hear myself breathe. The air is dangerously thin. It seems to rush in my ears. And yet the scene is peaceful here in the half-lit, slumbering pre-dawn: a white coverlet glowing in the room, a discarded necklace of beads, a shelf of books, one face down, splayed on the bedside- table, as though it – like the whole town at this hushed time – is dead to the world. I cannot make out the title but the sight of this book with its familiar cover image (the shape of a ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Did you think that Mr. Heming's problems and decisions were believable or realistic?

  2. Talk about the secondary characters. Were they important to the story? Did any stand out for you?

  3. Do you think that the unsettling nature of this novel stems from the fact that the crimes and trickery take place in the home, so are more believable than an unfamiliar location?

  4. Talk about the location. Was it important to the story? Was the author's description of the landscape/community a good one?

  5. What events in the story stand out for you as memorable?

  6. What was more important, the characters or the plot?

  7. Did you ever sympathize with Mr. Heming?

  8. Did anything make you laugh?

  9. Do you feel Mr. Heming's actions are justified revenge ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

By the end, it's quite possible that you'll be checking the cabinets, attics, bathtubs and the spaces under beds in your own home to be sure no one is lurking in darkness. You might also give strong consideration to changing the locks!   (Reviewed by Rory L. Aronsky).

Full Review (763 words).

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Media Reviews

Sunday Express (UK)
There is a delicious feeling of complicity in his misdemeanors. Heming gets inside your head as easily as he gets into his neighbors' houses. Indeed you cannot help asking as you finish this superbly plotted and genuinely creepy novel: wouldn't we all pry into our neighbors' lives like this if we could get away with it?

The Guardian (UK)
Hugely engrossing . . . Hogan captures perfectly [Heming’s] mix of rationality and madness—the sense of logical means applied to deranged ends. The result is that we sympathize with Heming, embrace his plight—which only heightens our discomfort.

The Observer (UK)
Brilliantly creepy.

The Independent on Sunday (UK)
William Heming is cut from the same cloth as Barbara Covett in Zoë Heller’s Notes On A Scandal, another unreliable narrator with whom we really should not be siding, but who proves so engaging that we can’t help but go along for the ride . . . [A] gripping, thrilling novel.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. A gripping psychological thriller that pegs out the creep-o-meter with its chilling, original plot…Hogan’s Mr. Heming is a monumentally diabolical character—the fact that he narrates the story further ups both the stakes and the tension. Readers won’t soon forget this first-rate, white-knuckle suspense novel.

Author Blurb Rosamund Lupton, New York Times-bestselling author of Sister
A wonderfully creepy novel, macabre and blackly comic with a deeply unsettling and original hero.

Author Blurb Sophie Hannah, bestselling author of The Monogram Murders and The Orphan Choir
I loved A Pleasure and a Calling—gripping, sinister, original and brilliant!

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Beyond the Book

Keys of All Kinds

On a wall in his home in A Pleasure and a Calling, William Heming hangs the keys to all the houses he's sold, copies made from the originals that their residents still use. He can go in those houses, no matter if the owners are home or not. It makes for disquieting reading, but also inspires curiosity about what types of keys exist.

Paracentric keyA paracentric key, which looks like a fused tuning fork with metal teeth on one end, is commonly used in prisons, as it offers higher security against lock picking.

Laser keyCars made since the 1990s (mainly upscale cars) have internal cut keys. Also known as laser-cut keys, they are thicker than an average car key, with slits on both sides so they can operate in the lock either way they're inserted.

...

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