Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Octopus by Tess Little. Huge thanks to Steve at Hodder for the invitation to join and for the fab review copy!
Author : Tess Little
Title : The Octopus
Pages : 295
Publisher : Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date :
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
When Elspeth arrives at her ex-husband’s LA mansion for his 50th birthday party, she’s expecting a crowd for the British film director. Instead, there are just seven other guests and Richard’s pet octopus, Persephone, watching over them from her tank.
Come morning, Richard is dead.
In the weeks that follow, each of the guests come under suspicion: the school friend, the studio producer, the actress, the actor, the new boyfriend, the manager, the cinematographer and the ex-wife, Elspeth herself. As stories of Richard’s past surface, colliding with Elspeth’s memories of their marriage, she begins to question not just who killed Richard, but why these eight guests were invited, and what sort of man would want to trap this mysterious, intelligent creature.
| MY THOUGHTS |
A glitzy mansion in Los Angeles is the place for the 50th birthday party of film director, Richard. Richard’s ex-wife Elspeth is our protagonist. She hasn’t seen her ex-husband since their divorce ten years ago and can’t quite figure out why she’s been invited. But Elspeth is here for her daughter. If she thought she could have one drink and then sneak away, she’s quickly proven wrong because oddly enough, there only seem to be eight guests. The party gets somewhat out of hand. By the next morning, Richard is dead.
No, this isn’t your typical locked room murder mystery à la Agatha Christie. The Octopus delves far deeper than that and heads more into the literary fiction genre. Richard isn’t liked. In fact, he’s a total bastard. There is no other way to describe him. Apart from his daughter, there doesn’t seem to be anyone who’s actually mourning his death. Least of all, me. But who would want him dead? Why were these eight people invited? Why did they even bother to attend the party of someone they apparently don’t seem to like very much in the first place? And what’s with the octopus in the tank in the living room? Could they be a suspect?
The Octopus is incredibly apt for this day and age. Richard is a master manipulator, massively controlling and a bully. Elspeth has many stories she could tell about her marriage to him but has opted not to. The same goes for the people who have worked with him. Why do they put up with being treated like dirt? In the weeks that follow, each of the guests comes under suspicion. Including Elspeth herself. It is through her that we learn more about Richard and the kind of man he was. And as Elspeth looks back on that fateful night, so does the reader. But how reliable are Elspeth’s memories and perceptions?
An unusual mystery, for sure. I found it quite slow, but as I said, it leans more towards the literary fiction genre than I was expecting and I don’t often do well with that. It wasn’t entirely easy going for me. There are no chapters, for instance. There is no heading or anything to tell you if what is taking place is in the past or the present. The characters are extremely unlikeable and even Elspeth, who I felt was someone I should have been rooting for, didn’t really get me onside. Nevertheless, this is a thought-provoking, powerful, intelligent, well-plotted story and a unique and refreshing variation on the classic locked room murder mystery. I’m definitely pleased I got the opportunity to read it and I have no doubt The Octopus will appeal to many readers, especially those who are more familiar with the literary fiction genre than I am. A remarkable debut by Tess Little, for sure.
The Octopus is available to buy!
| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |
Tess Little is a writer, historian, and Fellow of All Souls College, University of Oxford. She was born in Norwich in 1992 and studied history at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. She is currently working towards her doctorate, on transnational connections in 1970s feminist activism, having spent the last few years interviewing activists and visiting archives across the UK, France, and the US.
Her short stories and non-fiction have appeared in Words And Women: Two, The Mays Anthology, The Belleville Park Pages, The White Review and on posters outside a London tube station.
Her first novel, The Octopus, was published by Hodder & Stoughton in August 2020.