The Beresford by Will Carver #BookReview #BlogTour

Just outside the city – any city, every city – is a grand, spacious but affordable apartment building called The Beresford.

There’s a routine at The Beresford.

For Mrs May, every day’s the same: a cup of cold, black coffee in the morning, pruning roses, checking on her tenants, wine, prayer and an afternoon nap. She never leaves the building. Abe Schwartz also lives at The Beresford. His housemate Smythe no longer does. Because Abe just killed him. In exactly sixty seconds, Blair Conroy will ring the doorbell to her new home and Abe will answer the door. They will become friends. Perhaps lovers.

And, when the time comes for one of them to die, as is always the case at The Beresford, there will be sixty seconds to move the body before the next unknowing soul arrives at the door. 

Because nothing changes at The Beresford, until the doorbell rings...

It's such a pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for The Beresford today, huge thanks to Will Carver, Orenda Books and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

The Beresford had a lot to live up to, every one of Will Carver's previous novels I've read has wound up being my top book of the year so opening the striking, Escher-style front cover hinting at the chaotic darkness within was an enticing prospect.
Temptation lies at the heart of The Beresford beginning with the cheap rates that draw new tenants to the eponymous, grand old apartment building. The first we meet, Abe Schwarz seems like a nice guy, the type of boyfriend parents want for their daughters. Safe, dependable, normal Abe has just killed his fellow tenant, Scythe and has exactly sixty seconds to hide the body. The book's omniscient narrator still persuades readers that Abe is a good person, even as he embarks on his gruesome task to destroy the evidence of his uncharacteristic crime. There are a few nods to previous Will Carver books here, with one in particular bound to raise a smile as Abe figures out a way to remove Scythe from his flat.
Of course, if the ring of the doorbell heralds a new arrival at The Beresford, it also announces another death. Characters come and go; some have their murder signalled, others come as more of a surprise, although never a shock because we soon realise that there is something malevolent at The Beresford and that its residents have a high price to pay for affordable rent and following their dreams. 
Overseeing it all is the venerable Mrs May, a woman of unknown age who has spent many of her years in charge of the building and its ever-changing residents. Always there, always interested in her tenants and their lives, Mrs May even prays fervently for some of them. Her emotional, heartfelt pleas, however, suggest something darker than evangelical Christianity - and anyway, Blair Conroy's parents are there for that.
Blair is the second tenant introduced, she's escaping a devoutly religious upbringing and the kind of small town where everybody knows everything. Her parents aren't bad people and she didn't have to leave but she was stifled by her claustrophobic community and moved to The Beresford to be herself.  Religion and belief features throughout The Beresford as Will Carver explores morality and hypocrisy with his customary pinpoint insight. In a novel which is so darkly inevitable, where the fate of characters might not be pre-determined but are grimly inescapable, it's only right that readers are as manipulated as the unfortunate tenants. So we are invited to make judgment calls on the residents, we become complicit in their crimes as they strangle, stab and bludgeon their fellow tenants to death. As Gail attempts to build a new life for herself away from her violent husband who returned from war with PTSD, as Aubrey tries to make a name for herself away from her father's shadow, as Saffy seizes the opportunity to make a success of her jewellery-making business so we are forced to consider privilege, luck, bland assumptions and performative posturing.
It's uncomfortable reading at times but that's what makes Will Carver such an irresistible author. He doesn't gently allude to the topics we try to ignore; he compels us to confront our alleged desire for world peace, our over-sharing of every minutiae of our lives on social media, our desires, our envy, our propensity for evil. For what is perhaps most unsettling here, is that these tenants are not evil - even Scythe, the egotistical, mercurial artist who Abe killed right at the start and who apparently isn't missed by anybody - but something is present at The Beresford that drives them to commit the most heinous of acts. And yet even as we convince ourselves that this building is cursed so we must also face the truth about the world we've created outside The Beresford and it's not a soothing notion.
If this all sounds a little too bleak, it's not and the novel is peppered throughout with black, provocative humour that will undoubtedly offend some readers but which allows Will Carver to make his astute observations about the world without readers feeling as if they've been hit over the head with a carafe of wine...  It's one of those  books which will be interpreted differently by every reader who comes to it and that's the genius of this author. He uses his exceptional literary talent to force us to examine our own lives, our own moral justifications and subconscious principles and to realise that we aren't quite so different from these tormented, tempted characters. Disturbing, cynical, darkly funny... nobody does fiendishly twisted better than Will Carver! 

The Beresford is published by Orenda Books and can be purchased from the publisher's website, bookshop.orgAmazonWaterstonesHive or from your favourite independent bookshop (I bought mine from the fabulous Fourbears Books in Caversham)

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author
Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series and the critically acclaimed, mind-blowingly original Detective Pace series that includes Good Samaritans (2018), Nothing Important Happened Today (2019) and Hinton Hollow Death Trip (2020), all of which were ebook bestsellers and selected as books of the year in the mainstream international press. Nothing Important Happened Today was longlisted for both the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award 2020 and the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. Hinton Hollow Death Trip was longlisted for Guardian‘s Not the Booker Prize. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his children.


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