ON THE Fields of Parliament Hill, on a beautiful Valentine’s Day, as visitors gaze at the glittering city skyline, a man attacks his girlfriend with a broken champagne bottle and a knife before turning the blade against him .
The horrific murder-suicide is the opening scene of a new novel, Five strangers, by EV.Adamson – a pseudonym for Andrew Wilson, novelist, biographer and journalist, who related See again he got the idea for his psychological thriller while driving through Hampstead Heath.
One of the novel’s “five strangers” who witness this horrific incident is Jen, a disgraced former “faith” journalist. Her first-person story alternates with that of her friend, Bex, who works for the planning department at Camden Council.
After writing a report on the murder-suicide, Jen receives creepy messages on Twitter that she is being watched and casts doubt on what happened.
As she investigates, hoping to revive her career as a journalist by interviewing other witnesses, she discovers that there is more than crime.
Others who have witnessed this are a gay hedge fund manager who lives in Primrose Hill, a Labor MP, a young female doctor at the Royal Free Hospital who attempted to save the doomed couple, and a teenage William Ellis student. School, Highgate.
Everyone, including Jen, has their problems. The pressure is tightening on her and she is already mentally fragile after being fired from her job and breaking up with her boyfriend, Laurence, architect of Tufnell Park.
The ingeniously twisted plot – who cares if it sometimes stretches gullibility? – pours shocks and surprises on the way to a surprising and unexpected outcome.
There is stalking, jealousy, suspicion, obsession and revenge as the story weaves its way through the Heath and surrounding areas, including The Bishops Avenue, where Jen visits. to the murdered woman’s multimillionaire father, Highgate, King’s Cross, Tufnell Park, Primrose Hill and Kentish Town, where she lives in the tiny apartment in Bex.
For a while, Jen lives in the home of ex-octogenarian gung-ho reporter Penelope in a huge, faux-Gothic house on a side street in the heart of Hampstead Village. Clever and generous, Penelope encourages Jen and investigates herself. Jen doesn’t listen to him… until it’s almost too late.
Andrew Wilson has lived in Kentish Town for 16 years and is familiar with the territory of his novel. He told Review he often walked from his house to Dartmouth Park, then through Heath to Parliament Hill Fields and Hampstead.
“I’ve always loved The Heath and thought it would make a really strong setting for a novel. One day, as I was crossing the Heath, I got the idea: what if a group of strangers witnessed a violent crime? Would they remember the incident differently? How would that affect them? “
The novel provides a stimulating insight into faith-based journalism. Jen has alienated most of her friends by writing about them.
Outside a house with a blue plaque noting that between 1960 and 1961 it housed the poet Sylvia Plath (the subject of one of Wilson’s biographies), Jen reflects that as a teenager and young woman , she couldn’t get enough of Plath’s “denominational mode” of writing and is sure her reading shaped her decision to become a “professional oversharer”.
Jen was fired for making up details about herself, which were refuted by documentary evidence.
Wilson said, “I’ve always been interested in faith-based journalism and all that writers have to say about their personal lives. I wanted to write a psychological thriller that had this problem at its dark heart. “
Has he ever witnessed or been involved in a traumatic incident?
“No, but in my thirty years of journalism I’ve interviewed a lot of people who have – both victims and criminals, including David Berkowitz, the infamous Son of Sam serial killer.”
Wilson has written for several national newspapers, and his novels include four starring Agatha Christie as a detective.
Her non-fiction books include biographies of Patricia Highsmith, Sylvia Plath, Alexander McQueen, Harold Robbins, and a group biography of Titanic survivors.
It was the first award-winning biography of Highsmith, famous for his psychological thrillers, and he said he had been greatly influenced by his novels.
He has a small apartment in Bloomsbury, which he describes as one of his favorite parts of London, and has been teaching the crime writing course at Faber Academy since last year.
“Mystery novels by virtue of the genre have to be page-turners,” he said. “We all love novels with strong narratives and compelling, but flawed characters.”
As Five Strangers pick up speed, he becomes an infallible page turner. Captivating vacation reading.
• Five strangers. By EV Adamson, HarperCollins, £ 7.99