‘They All Fall Down’, the debut thriller from Cat Hogan, is a psychological look at obsession and addiction.
Jen Harper has just moved into the house she inherited from her aunt. She meets the attractive and gentle Andy, her aunt’s lodger. The chemistry between them is obvious, but Andy’s best friend Scott doesn’t hide his dislike of her. He makes it clear to Jen that he doesn’t want her and Andy together.
Jen can’t understand Scott’s relationship with Andy. He is unusually protective of him, barely letting Andy out of his sight. The way Scott talks to Jen makes her think he is threatening her and she starts to worry when he gets close to her friends. She wants to find out what Scott is hiding behind his expensive suits and charming demeanor, but is the risk of losing her friends, as well as Andy, worth finding out the truth?
‘They All Fall Down’ is a book about Scott’s obsession with Andy and the lengths he will go to keep him to himself. It’s clear from early on that Scott is the villain of the book, and the chapters written from his point of view are the best ones. He’s a brilliantly written character, manipulative and almost psychopathic. It would be easy to fall into clichés when writing a character like this, but Hogan manages not to. His exploitation of every situation, Tess’s money problems, Sal’s infatuation with him, and Doc’s affair, are all believable and shocking. And the fact that the reader knows exactly what he’s doing while the characters don’t add to the tension.
The book has quite a slow pace for something of this genre, but this works in its favour. Most of the action happens at the very end, but it’s built up to well, with Jen’s slow realisation of who Scott really is, while her friends start to turn on her. It’s easy to figure out where the book is going to end, but the predictability doesn’t take away from the excitement of the final scenes. Once you get to the last third of the book you won’t be able to put it down.
‘They All Fall Down’ definitely shows Hogan’s potential. Parts of it read a bit like a first draft. A good first draft, but still in need of an edit. The dialogue is a bit forced at times, and the constant repetition of everyone’s name is jarring. But the story itself engrosses you. Scott’s character is fascinating, and Hogan will keep you on your toes with him until the very last page.