Book Review: The Half Burnt House by Alex North

Published on 16th March, The Half Burnt House by Alex North follows Katie who has always looked after her beloved younger brother Chris – until she left him alone for one selfish afternoon, and their picture-perfect family fell apart. Although Chris survived the attack, the scars ran deeper than the ones left across his face. Now they’re adults, and they haven’t spoken in years. Then she gets a call, from Detective Laurence Page.

Page is facing an unusually disturbing crime scene. Alan Hobbes, a distinguished and wealthy philosophy professor, has been brutally murdered. Hobbes was living in a sprawling mansion – but one that remains half-ruined by a decades-old fire, wind and rain howling through the gaping, creaking roof.

Page only has one suspect: Chris, caught on CCTV at the house. But he has plenty of questions. What could cause a man as wealthy as Hobbes not to repair his home? Why did he seem to know his death was coming, yet do nothing to stop it? And why was he obsessed with a legendary local serial killer?

But Katie only has one thing on her mind. She knows this is her last, best chance to finally save her brother, and make up for her negligence all those years ago.

But she can’t possibly imagine just how much danger he’s in…


Thank you to NetGalley for a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

As a big fan of Alex North’s previous books, The Shadow Friend and The Whisper Man, I was really excited to read his latest release. The prologue had me hooked with that same eerie, dark atmosphere that I love about North’s books, and I was so ready to be taken in by this haunting premise.

Sadly, after the prologue, I was absolutely lost. This is such a complex thriller that I couldn’t keep up with it at all. I even had to ask somebody to explain the story to me, and it still made my head hurt.

Nevertheless, I’ve seen a lot of great reviews for this book, although most have said that it took them a while to get to grips with who was who. So my recommendation to anybody looking forward to reading this one is to make a few notes as you go, as I’m sure I would have enjoyed it if I could have followed it more easily.

As it was, the only time I really knew what was going on was when the detective gave a bullet-pointed list of his findings. There were definitely moments when I was really into the story, but it was just so much hard work overall, and I had no idea what had happened by the time I finished it. Massively frustrated by this.


The Half Burnt House by Alex North
Release Date: 16th March 2023
Print Length: 384 pages
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Publisher: Penguin Michael Joseph


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