Publication: 20th August 2020 – Hodder & Stoughton
There’s more than one way to capture a life.
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.
From the LA hills to the Norfolk marshes, The Octopus is a stylish exploration of power: the power of memory, the power of perception, the power of one person over another.
Welcome to my stop for the blog tour of The Octopus, the brand new novel by Tess Little.
Elspeth flew all the way from New York to attend her ex-husband’s fiftieth birthday party at his LA mansion, Sedwick. Elspeth hasn’t seen Richard in ten years and she doesn’t want to go to the party, but she is reassured by the knowledge her daughter Lillie will be there and the many other guests that will probably attend the party. When she arrives to the party, she finds out that it isn’t going to be the big party she expected, but, besides her and the birthday boy, there are only seven more guests and the octopus Persephone who watches them from the aquarium. This will be a night they will never forget because the next morning, Richard is found dead and the police suspects that one of the guest at his party murdered him.
“We believed he had died from an overdose. There was no reason to suspect otherwise.”
Why did Richard invite only these eight people to his party? And who, amongst them, wanted him dead? Narrated through Elspeth’s voice, the story alternates between the night of the party and the aftermath of Richard’s death as the police questions the guests. Each guest had a reason to want Richard dead, including Elspeth.
The Octopus is not simply a mystery crime story about a suspicious death. It’s also a story of abuse, a story of power and control, a story of secrets. Elspeth is anxious and insecure. She lies about her marriage, she lies about Richard’s true character. You don’t know which of her memories are real and which memories she has created to protect herself and her daughter. Like Persephone in the aquarium, Elspeth tried to escape from her marriage, she tried to escape from Richard’s party, but she couldn’t:
“I imagined the house as an enormous aquarium. A brilliant display in the dull twilight. The bright clothes, sparkling jewellery; a tank shelved on the hillside. It was enchanting, if I let it be so.”
The Octopus is a brilliant, current, very well-written novel and I’d like to thank Steve Cooper and Hodder & Stoughton for inviting me to join the blog tour and providing me with a copy of this fantastic novel.
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