The Red House – Roz Watkins

Twenty years ago, Joseph Flowers murdered his parents and younger brother in cold blood, before spending the night at a friend’s house as if nothing had happened, then crashing his car into a tree. Since that night, Joseph has been in a coma, and the family farm has become known as the Red House. The place where the walls were covered in blood.

The only person to escape the massacre was Joseph’s five-year-old sister, Eve. Now living her life with a new identity, she finally feels like she’s put her horrific past behind her.

Eve was the only one to witness her family’s murder, and she has never known why Joseph snapped all those years ago – but when she is faced with the decision of keeping her unresponsive brother alive, or letting him die, it might be her last chance to find out.

As she pieces together what happened that night, she will have to question everything she understood to be true, including her brother’s guilt, the stories she’s been told about her parents, and her own innocence.

Because Eve may be a survivor, but she might also be a liar.

Book Info: Print length: 416 pages. Publisher: HQ. Publication Date: 22 June 2023

Roz Watkins is the author of the DI Meg Dalton crime series and the standalone thriller, ‘The Red House’.

Her first book, The Devil’s Dice, was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger Award, was the Times crime book of the month, and was optioned for TV.

Roz studied engineering at Cambridge University, before training in patent law. She was a partner in a firm of patent attorneys in Derby, but this has absolutely nothing to do with there being a dead one in her first novel. She is also an animal trainer and a qualified hypnotherapist, which provides plenty of scope for coming up with interesting murders!

Roz now lives in Cornwall and likes to walk on the coast, scouting out murder locations.

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My Review:

This is my first book by author Roz Watkins, who has written a series of books previously and this is her first standalone thriller.

The Red House is a dual timeframe novel which tells the story of the Flowers family. Twenty years ago, troubled teenager Joseph Flowers murdered his parents and baby brother and then crashed his car into a tree resulting in a coma. Only his 5 year old sister Eve survived this tragedy and it was her testimony that found Joseph guilty of this horrific crime.

Twenty years later Eve has changed her name, moved away and kept herself out of the public eye despite being part of one of the most famous crimes committed in the UK.

Just before Joseph’s car accident he had created a computer game which thousands of players believe holds the clues as to why he committed this crime, and with the 20th anniversary approaching many gamers are determined to unlock the clues and solve the case.

This is a very atmospheric chilling thriller. The “Red House” where the murders were committed and where Joseph is now cared for by his grandmother is almost a central character itself. Set in the marshes, this creepy, spooky setting adds an extra depth of foreboding.

With multiple characters and differing points of view of what actually happened twenty years ago, the reader is taken on a gripping journey trying to slowly pick apart the truth and who the real killer is.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, there were more than enough twists and turns to keep me glued to the kindle screen and a couple of WTF moments which I really didn’t see coming.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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