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The Farm Hardcover – June 3, 2014

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Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, June 2014: The Farm is the sum of its parts: a psychological thriller written with the intricate plotting and pacing of a spy novelist. Tom Rob Smith, best known for the Cold War-era series Child 44, steps out of his comfort zone to deliver a he-said she-said mystery that rivals the delicate balancing act of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. Daniel visits his parents, only to discover that his mother and father no longer trust each other. In fact, something so sinister may be at play that his entire life could be a lie. You'll go back and forth between believing and doubting the mother’s conspiracies about a girl who goes missing in a small Swedish town. Smith cleverly places the burden of the narrative on Daniel’s interior dilemma--the guilt of choosing one parent over the other and his unwillingness to let go of the parents he once thought he understood. I won't give anything away, but the truth turns out to be both a satisfying resolution of plot and an emotionally crushing finale. --Kevin Nguyen


"From the very first page, The Farm has all the trappings of a thriller with a deep, dark conspiracy at its heart, but Smith isn't content to stick to formulas. Through a first-person narrative that allows us to view this drama through Daniel's always engaging eyes, he weaves in and out of secrets and truths, sins and redemptions, crafting a thriller that weaves a satisfyingly juicy web of deception and is also an unpredictable page-turner. It's a rare thing to see an author so completely embody the trappings of his genre and also surprise the reader, but Smith achieves it with The Farm. Child 44 fans as well as those looking to get lost in an immersive thriller will find this a gripping read."―BookPage - One of the Ten Best Mysteries and Thrillers 2014

"[A] superior psychological thriller...Smith keeps the reader guessing up to the powerfully effective resolution that's refreshingly devoid of contrivances."―Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) - One of the Top Ten Thrillers of 2014

"This is easily the novel I talked about the most this year and most adamantly pressed into other people's hands. British author Tom Rob Smith is a thriller writer, but of the literary, fiercely smart variety...Smith spins a novel of doubt and secrets set in a bleak yet beautiful Swedish landscape."―Shannon Rhoades, Morning Edition - Selected as one of NPR's 2014 Great Reads

"Smith does an expert job of putting readers into the narrator's uncomfortable shoes."―New York Post

"Tom Rob Smith breathes new life into the landscape, transcending the traditional crime fiction genre with an intricately-knitted thriller steeped in mythology...[Smith] demonstrates the same craftsmanship that saw his highly-acclaimed novel Child 44 claim the Galaxy Book Award for Best New Writer and [be] long-listed for the Manbooker Prize, among its many plaudits. Meticulously weaving together literary themes of revenge and madness...this latest offering is a tapestry of fairytales old and new; so unsettling and oppressive that it blurs the distinctions between sanity and madness, reality and fantasy, leaving the reader guessing until the bitter end."―The Independent (UK)

"The Farm sustains its high dramatic pitch from London to Sweden and back through an immersive and tough-to-predict series of revelations about falsehoods and fantasies."―The Philadelphia Inquirer

"This is a neatly plotted book full of stories within stories, which gradually unravel to confound our expectations...Smith's twisting, turning novel shows that Scandi crime also retains the ability to surprise and thrill."―The Guardian (UK) - One of The Best Crime and Thrillers of 2014

"Tom Rob Smith's The Farm is an absorbing, unsettling, multilayered novel...The Farm is beautifully crafted, its effect enhanced by the author's admission that his own family faced a similar experience."―The Times (UK)

"'Impossible to put down' has become as overused a thing to say about books as the one saying that the people writing them should stick with what they know. In the case of The Farm, it is close to true (I read it in about three sittings and real life felt like an impertinent interruption whenever I had to put it down). Child 44 was one of those rare books that managed to thrill both the Booker judges and the Richard and Judy brigade. The Farm is, perhaps, even better. It is so good, in fact, that you will finish it quickly and then be jealous of anyone who hasn't read it yet."―The Independent (UK)

"A cast-iron premise and a breathtaking opening... Smith has constructed a canny and enthralling story, one that veers off in unexpected ways to complicate and deepen his carefully timed plot. Throughout, he keeps us off-kilter at every turn."―The Seattle Times

"Perhaps his best novel yet...Scarily claustrophobic . . . genuinely, lingeringly frightening."―The Guardian - Best Thrillers of 2014

"Is there anything more innerving than the realization that you can't trust your own mother? Maybe the realization that you can't trust your father either. That's the killer premise of The Farm."―New York Times Book Review

"Gripping, atmospheric...This absorbing novel thrives on gradually revealing the intimate details of lives, showing how they become hidden not only from strangers, but from those closest to them. The relationship between parents and children is excellently explored as the author traces the toxic effect of lies and reveals some shocking home truths."―The Observer (UK)

"Chilling, hypnotic and thoroughly compelling. You will not read a better thriller this year."―Mark Billingham, international bestselling author of The Dying Hours

"On rare occasions, an author pulls off the high-wire act of writing a crime-oriented novel that easily transcends the genre. The Farm is one of these...[Smith's] skills are as finely honed as ever, with this tale that's both a page turner and a searing examination of the lives of our protagonist, his lover and his family. Structurally innovative and stylistically resonant, The Farm is a remarkable achievement."―Jeffery Deaver, bestselling author of The Kill Room

"I read this book in two greedy sittings, absolutely and joyfully clueless as to where it was leading. Tom Rob Smith has created a truly original and chilling thriller, which makes you ask yourself 'who would I believe'?"―Jojo Moyes, New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1St Edition edition (June 3, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446550736
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446550734
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (427 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #401,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tom Rob Smith graduated from Cambridge University in 2001 and lives in London. His first novel, Child 44, was a New York Times bestseller and an international publishing sensation. Among its many honors, Child 44 won the ITW 2009 Thriller Award for Best First Novel, The Strand Magazine 2008 Critics Award for Best First Novel, the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award, and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Tom invites you to visit his website and follow @tomrobsmith on Twitter.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Kyle Warner on July 25, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The Farm is interesting but it's not always enjoyable. It's bold but it's not always successful. At the best of times it's like putting together a puzzle with the knowledge that a few important pieces are missing. At the worst of times it's like being stuck in a locked room with a half-crazed person whose irrational ramblings go on and on and on. . .

Young man Daniel has distanced himself from his parents. He doesn't know that they've fallen on hard times financially. They don't know that he's gay. One day, his father phones him, telling Daniel that his mother Tilde has suffered a mental breakdown. Tilde is not well but she convinced the doctors to set her free. Daniel's dad is worried sick. Not long after this phone call, Daniel's mom calls, tells her son that she needs to meet him. They meet. She's paranoid and unwell. She tells of a conspiracy in her neighborhood town, which involves a missing person, a questionable suicide, possible child abuse, and a desperate attempt to cover-up the truth. She says that Daniel's father is in on it. They want to lock Tilde away and label her a crazy person and her investigation as pure fantasy.

Daniel spends much of the book acting as the reader's POV, learning the story as we learn it, asking the questions we want to ask. Most of the book is Tilde’s long-winded narrative of what happened around her farm and the conspiracies. Daniel, like us, is forced to listen. Whenever Daniel or the reader happens upon a logical thought of something like, 'Yeah, but, what does this all mean?' Tilde always ignores the question, adamant that the story unfold in a linear fashion, for the sake of 'context.'

But this is frustrating and it goes on too long. There's little suspense in her story. Just questions. Lots and lots of questions.
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Format: Hardcover
What a subtle yet wild ride THE FARM is. The first step of the journey is to disabuse oneself of any preconceived notion that it is anything similar to Tom Rob Smith’s award-winning CHILD 44 historical thriller trilogy. The only similarity is the pristine quality of both works. Smith’s latest is set in England and Sweden, very much in the here and now. It is based on a personal and painful experience of Smith’s; indeed, the emotion shines through page by page, paragraph by paragraph, as the first-person narration brings the reader into a situation where perception and reality collide on several levels.

Smith tells us much within the space of a few opening pages, setting things up for the ever-broadening expanse of what is to follow. The story is told initially through the voice of Daniel, who lives in London with his significant other. His parents, Chris and Tilde, have been retired from England and residing in apparent rural bliss on a farm they have purchased in Sweden, Tilde’s country of birth. Daniel imagines them as happy and content as they apparently were when they were living in England. That illusion is shattered when Daniel receives a frantic and very unexpected call from his father, advising him that his mother is, as they say, “not well.” Specifically, Tilde has had a psychotic episode and has been hospitalized. Daniel, for reasons of his own, has never visited his parents in Sweden, but makes haste to do so upon hearing this news. On his way to the airport, though, he receives a call from his mother advising him that she has left the hospital and is flying to London to see him. Tilde presents herself in due course; she is not quite herself but not so much so that a stranger could tell.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Daniel lives in London with his partner, Mark. His parents, Chris and Tilde, have retired to a remote farm in Sweden – the homeland his mother left many years before. He believes them to be content and well and uses his image of them as happy and busy in their new life as the reason why he has distanced himself from them. For Daniel has made excuses not to visit – rather than explain that his career is not going well or introduce Mark to them, he has contented himself with emails and vague promises. However, one day he receives a frantic phone call from his father to say that his mother is not well. As he rushes to the airport, his mother contacts him to say she is arriving in London.

What follows is a compelling tale, as his mother claims that her husband, and other men in the community where they live, are involved in a terrible crime – while Daniel’s father insists that his mother is imagining the events. Most of this novel consists of Tilde and Daniel alone, as Tilde reveals what has happened since she moved to Sweden. Both Daniel and his parents have secrets and Daniel is bewildered by accounts of events in which he recognises neither his mother or father. We hear of the couple’s nearest neighbour, Hakan Greggson, his wife and adopted daughter. Of Tilde’s hidden childhood, rumours and accusations. Yet, is Daniel’s mother a liar, a fantasist or a victim of a conspiracy?

Although much of this book reads like a play, with Tilde recounting events, it is not at all slow moving. Rather you are always kept slightly unsure; discovering things alongside Daniel as he attempts to uncover the truth. Daniel is a likeable character, aware of his faults and unwilling to give up on his mother. This is a really interesting and original novel and I could not wait to read on and find out what happened.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.
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