the guardian Sat 17 January 2009
"Even now, I can remember the first time I saw the house as clearly as if there were a video of it playing in my head." Start with a spooky, big house, a few family secrets and a nod to Rebecca, add a sprinkling of The Secret History, and you should have the makings of a literary commercial success. Jo is a middle-class suburban girl who is in curious thrall to the posher, more confident, but horribly bland set she fell in with at university. And now that the main object of her affection, the ghastly Lucas, has inherited a big country pad, she is living out a little private fantasy, terrified of losing the glamour that their weekend trips to the house add to her life as a local reporter, no matter how neurotic, voyeuristic and murderous they get. Whitehouse works hard to elevate her fairly compelling and likeable romp to something more sophisticated by chucking in classical allusions and trying to force into the narrative a nameless, dark foreboding. But the endless unironic solipsism and the intense but shallow emotions allow for little menace.