Is Mark Strachan a guy who’s had a tough hand dealt in life? Or a sociopath?
“Rowan’s Well” follows the story of Mark and Will from when they become roommates in college to when Mark commits a shocking, unforgivable crime, and everyone has to pick up the pieces afterwards. It’s a thriller-cum-family-drama, with flashbacks to Mark’s childhood in between the story of college-age and adult Mark, Will, and the sisters they marry.
The flashback structure works well to heighten the tension and underline the uncertainty about Mark’s character that is the center of the book: neither the reader, nor his wife, nor his best friend Will, nor, for that matter, Mark himself, can ever be entirely certain whether he’s a villain or a victim–or rather, where his victimhood ends and his villainy begins. Rejected by his parents and bullied at school, Mark goes through a repeated cycle of driving away and even killing those closest to him. Warning: “Rowan’s Well” has some pretty upsetting crimes in it, all committed by Mark. We see Mark as a creepy monster. But we also see him as a person struggling and failing to deal with their difficult past. The human drama plus the flashback structure builds the story to a high pitch of tension that comes–spoiler alert!–to an ambiguous ending.
“Rowan’s Well” probably won’t be for every reader, but for someone looking for a smart, thoughtful British thriller, it is well worth reading.
Amazon buy link here.