The House of Fame

Written by Oliver Harris

Review written by Sara Townsend

Sara-Jayne Townsend is a published crime and horror writer and likes books in which someone dies horribly. She is founder and Chair Person of the T Party Writers’ Group.

The House of Fame
Jonathan Cape
RRP: £12.99
Released: April 14 2016

Detective Nick Belsey is not in a good place. Suspended from Hampstead CID pending a hearing concerning allegations of gross misconduct, and of no fixed abode, he is squatting in his former building, with no electricity and no prospects. Then a knock on the door of the abandoned building changes things – a woman wants to hire Nick to find her middle-aged son, missing for two days.

It doesn’t take long for Nick to discover that the son, Mark Doughty, had been stalking young starlet Amber Knight, and he decides to start his investigations in the sordid world of celebrity. It becomes clear that Amber is hiding secrets, but why is she lying about not knowing Mark Doughty when a CCTV camera captures them both entering a hotel together? When a body turns up in the woods, appearing to be that of Mark Doughty, Nick’s investigations take a much more sinister turn. Can he get to the heart of the secret that connects Amber Knight and Mark Doughty, before anyone else dies?

This is a dark novel, in more ways than one, and it’s difficult to empathise with Nick Belsey, who really doesn’t have many endearing character traits. In fact it’s hard to find a likeable character in this novel. But they all come across as being fairly realistic and the price of fame in the world of celebrity is effectively portrayed, especially around the circus of Amber’s wedding, which she has sold to the highest commercial sponsor.

There are a couple of moments when one is asked to suspend one’s belief – the ease with which Nick seems to be able to stroll into Amber’s house, as an example. Though, one should be prepared, for if cozy mysteries are more your thing then this book will make for uncomfortable reading. However, fans of the ‘noir’ detective story; and of complex anti-heroes who are far from ‘whiter than white’, then this series is well worth checking out.


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