THE OTHER HALF
THE NIGHT BEFORE
Rupert’s 30th is a black tie dinner at the Kentish Town McDonald’s – catered with cocaine and Veuve Clicquot.
THE MORNING AFTER
His girlfriend Clemmie is found murdered on Hampstead Heath. All the party-goers have alibis. Naturally.
This investigation is going to be about Classics degrees and aristocrats, Instagram influencers and who knows who. Or is it whom? Detective Caius Beauchamp isn’t sure. He’s sharply dressed, smart, and as into self-improvement as Clemmie – but as he searches for the dark truth beneath the luxury, a wall of staggering wealth threatens to shut down his investigation before it’s begun.
Can he see through the tangled set of relationships in which the other half live, and die, before the case is taken out of his hands?
Bitingly funny, full of twists, and all too close to reality, this is a stunning debut from your next favourite crime writer.
In the UK at the moment, it feels as if we are being constantly reminded how the other half live. Whether it’s frustrating legislation from politicians, TikTok influencers showing their naivety or celebrity comments in the media – we are reminded that the cost-of-living crisis is not universal. We are all in the same storm, but some people have Super Yachts!
The Other Half is a crime thriller which focuses on (and satires) the upper-class elites and the shady world in which they live. We meet a cast of infuriating characters: from rich play-boy Rupert, influencer girlfriend Clemmie and the mysterious Nell. The day after Rupert throws an extravagant birthday party upstairs in a Macdonald’s restaurant, his girlfriend is found dead and its up to DI Caius Beauchamp to find out the truth. We are led through a trail of yoga classes, health food, social media, gyms and drugs to discover the truth.
I’ll start by saying that this book is an astonishing debut from Charlotte Vassell, and she is an author to keep an eye on in future. The writing style is beautiful and the way that the book is told walks a fine line between making a point that should enrage us as a reader and making us laugh with its absurdity in places. That said, I did find it dragged a little and could have been improved with a touch more editing.
The plot is interesting with a lot of twists and turns to keep you engaged. The narrative shifts chapters between Caius and Nell’s perspective which was refreshing. I initially did not enjoy the chapters about the birthday party as it all seemed very shallow, but stick with it and you’ll see what Vassell is trying to achieve. I thought Caius was a good choice as the detective in this case and it was nice that the character didn’t fall into a lot of the stereotypes that can be seen in other crime thrillers. After being dumped by his partner, he is trying (and failing in places), to cope which sees him go on a bit of a health kick. I’d be interested in reading more books with him as a leading character.
The plot winds a meandering path and although I kind of guessed the killer correctly earlier on, I changed my mind lots of times before the reveal happened! There wasn’t really a time when I could easily see where the plot was going, and it certainly wasn’t predictable. The ending was a little unsatisfying, but I think this is done to make a point as well. It is also heavily setting up for a sequel or even a series. The last few paragraphs which set up a shock twist cliff-hanger for Caius I felt was unnecessary and too abrupt.
Overall, The Other Half will frustrate you with its selfish characters yet make you question society and keep you chuckling whilst you work out the murder mystery! Thank you to NetGalley & Faber & Faber for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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