Monday, February 9, 2015

Did you change your house keys when you moved in?  You will definitely consider doing so after
reading A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan.  William Heming is a real estate agent who prides himself on his unremarkability.  People never remember him, which suits Mr. Heming just fine.  He has worked his way up to owning the agency, and he's very successful.  This is useful to him, not just financially, but because it allows him increased opportunities to pursue his greatest hobby.  Mr. Heming keeps all the keys from the properties he sells.  He watches the new homeowners to determine their habits, and when he's sure the properties are empty, he lets himself in for a leisurely snoop around.  He often takes meals in some of his "favorite" properties.  He never gets caught, but surely the possibility is part of the thrill.

While observing one of "his properties," he sees a married man who seems to be having a fairly intimate meeting with an attractive young woman.  He becomes obsessed with finding out if they are having an affair.  Soon, he is infatuated with the woman, Abigail, and determines to somehow get her away from the cheating husband.

Abigail's property isn't one of "his" so he comes up with a daring plan to get her key so he can copy it and explore her home.  He eventually achieves this, even hiding at the home when she's there (to better observe her routines).  Unfortunately, he miscalculates during one of his explorations, and this requires him to go to extraordinary lengths to keep his secrets from being exposed.  

William is certainly a fascinating character.  In telling his story, we get glimpses into his childhood which help to explain why he is the warped person he is today.  Odd as he is, he seems to appear "normal" because he has no problem in attracting female attention (when he's not trying to be invisible, that is!).  Still, the ladies would do well to steer clear of this character, and certainly not to ever try to beat him at his own game . . .

I really enjoyed the events leading up to the conclusion, but when Heming was under pressure, his attempts to cover his tracks and mislead investigators got a bit confusing.  It was certainly an interesting premise, and the deluded character of Mr. Heming (who keeps telling himself that he only wants to observe, not cause any harm) is a memorable one.  This would make an interesting film -- one that would surely inspire a great deal of unease about what may be going on in your home after you leave for the day.

Final Verdict for A Pleasure and a Calling: Three Gherkins, for being a creepy look at the activities of a less-than-benign invisible man


About Me

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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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The Gherkin Scale

5gherkinsb Brilliant!

4gherkinsb Good, innit?

3gherkinsb Fair to middlin'

2gherkinsb Has some good points

1gherkin Oi! Wot you playin' at?

0gherkins3Don't be givin' me evils!

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