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The Boy at the Keyhole
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The Boy at the Keyhole

3.28  ·  Rating details ·  346 Ratings  ·  154 Reviews
An electrifying debut in the vein of Shirley Jackson and Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, about a British boy who, after his mother is abruptly called away to America, begins to suspect that perhaps she did not leave, but was murdered—by the housekeeper who cares for him in the family's isolated country estate.

Nine-year-old Samuel lives alone in a once great estate in Surrey w
...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 4th 2018 by Hanover Square Press
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Joe I fully believe that she is going to confess to the murder in order to protect the child that she has been going to great lengths to support from the…moreI fully believe that she is going to confess to the murder in order to protect the child that she has been going to great lengths to support from the beginning. Just think back to her creation of the postcards by learning how to write like the mother and say the things that the boy desires. He has become her boy and she wants to protect him.(less)

Community Reviews

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Tammy
May 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A perfectly serviceable suspense novel that takes place within the confines of a manor house. A housekeeper is charged with the care of a nine year old boy during the absence of his mother. Needless to say things between them become rather tense and play out psychologically and otherwise until both reach their breaking point. The comparisons to Du Maurier and Shirley Jackson seem about right but I would add a whisper of Thomas Tryon.
Fran
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Push pins on an atlas are the only way nine year old Samuel Clay can track his mother's trip to America. That, and eight postcards sent from various locales. Mrs. Clay was seeking a large investment to jump start the sagging business she runs since the death of her husband. Samuel aches for his mother but also resents her. Why has she been gone one hundred thirteen days? Why did she abruptly leave in the middle of the night without saying goodbye? After school, Samuel races home hoping to find h ...more
Kendall
Nine year old Samuel Clay lives with his housekeeper Ruth on an English estate. Samuel's father has died and his mother abruptly left in the middle of the night to America to help with their failing family business.

It has been over 5 months since Samuel has spoken to his mother and he desperately is missing her. Samuel receives random postcards from his mother that he keeps in an atlas to map his mother's locations across America. Samuel is hoping and praying that his mother will return from Ame
...more
DJ Sakata
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Favorite Quotes:

Ruth could do that. Make a decree, like a queen or something, that certain topics had reached their end and that would be that.

Now that he stood on the precipice of this wrongdoing, he felt the fluttering in his chest that made every breath sound as if he were sitting on a rattling train.

The same wine his mother said made his father prone to unsettling fits of national pride and falling asleep midsentence.

Part of the reason Samuel was sent to the local school and not somewhere m
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Dennis
While, The Boy at the Keyhole promises a psychological horror showdown, it falls flat on its delivery. It's the early 1960s, and nine year old Samuel lives in this beautiful spacious estate in England, where he is being taken care of by his housekeeper Ruth. Samuel's father had passed away, leaving the family in financial disarray. Samuel's mother has ventured to America in pursuit of work so the family can get stable again—before the family loses their house. In the mean time, Ruth is Samuel' ...more
Chris Mara
Oct 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A suspenseful psychological thriller involving Samuel, a 9 year old boy and his, and the estate homes’ caretaker, Ruth. Honestly, I could not put this book down!

Ruth is a questionable person at the get go. No one really knows of her personal or professional background. She is brusque, she is a perfectionist, very strict and runs the home with an iron will and fist. She also runs 9 year old Samuel, her charge, with that same controlling manner. This woman, while she cooks and cleans impeccably a
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Bookworm
Sep 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Thank you to Harlequin - Hanover Square Press and Stephen Giles for an advanced copy of The Boy at the Keyhole. This was a psychological brain teaser to say the least! There was much to be enjoyed with this book but also a little slow in places. If you are a big fan of slow burns that tease through plausible outcomes until the final reveal, this is a book that may appeal to you.

The plot is about a 9-year-old boy living in England. His family home is bankrupt with most of the servants having alr
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MaryBeth's Bookshelf
The Boy in the Keyhole has all the elements of a great thriller - a decaying estate in England, an abusive housekeeper, and a curious boy trying to figure out what happened to his mother. I could not put this book down, but the big, pivotal moment I was waiting for never materialized. I was extremely confused about the ending. It definitely kept my interest, but left me unsatisfied at the end.
Judy
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
Nine-year-old Samuel has been left in the care of the housekeeper, Ruth, for over 100 days while his mother went to America to try to raise money to save the family steel business. The story takes place mostly in the mind of Samuel - suspense that builds very slowly until both Samuel and Ruth are at each other's throats. The story doesn't come out and say what actually happened, but you get a pretty good idea. Not what I expected and really not the book for me, but it was interesting enough to f ...more
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
Nine-year-old Samuel Clay lives with the family's housekeeper, Ruth, on a deteriorating English estate.  His father has died and his mother has traveled to America to secure capital for their failing business.

It's been over five months since Samuel has spoken to his mother; he receives random postcards from her and marks her locations in an atlas in the study.  He misses her terribly and is upset she left in the middle of the night without saying goodbye.

Samuel's imagination runs wild and all it
...more
Marjorie
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss, netgalley
Nine-year-old Samuel misses his mother. She’s left him alone with the housekeeper Ruth. Ruth as told Samuel that his mother had to go to America to try to save the family business. She didn’t even say goodbye and left in the middle of the night while he was sleeping. But she’s been gone months and he begins to suspect that something has happened to her. He begins to believe that Ruth has murdered his mother.

The comparisons of this book to the work of Shirley Jackson and Daphne Du Maurier convinc
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Jill
Jun 03, 2018 rated it liked it
This sinister psychological thriller focuses around an age-old conundrum: if two people have conflicting versions of what is true, who is the unreliable narrator?

Young Samuel lives with his housekeeper Ruth in the crumbling family estate in Cornwall. His father is dead and his mother is an America trying to resurrect her husband’s mordant business. But is she really? Or has the housekeeper had a hand in her disappearance?

Ruth is responsible but harsh and her explanations seem to add up. And Samu
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Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)
This slow burn of a psychological mystery will leave you guessing what is true and what is not.

What else is a nine-year-old boy supposed to do when his mother leaves to go to another country in the middle of the night without even saying goodbye? Of course he's going to try and figure out why she would do such a thing. Enter his friend who starts putting ideas of murder in his head and watch the wheels start to turn!

Ruth, the housekeeper and now his guardian is not the nicest. She's strict, alm
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Emily
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
"This house won't hold your secrets--it will betray them...This house tells its tales with anyone with sense enough to listen."

I enjoyed The Boy at the Keyhole more than I expected to. This is a slow-burning psychological gothic novel with tones of Shirley Jackson. Don't expect major twists and turns or anything crazy, but it's a good story about secrets and a crumbling house.

At some points, it feels a little drawn out. I think this could have worked better as a short story, but I still really l
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Kelly Long
Aug 18, 2018 rated it did not like it
I read an ARC of this book.
This was a slow burn that turned into a dud. That ending... What a letdown.
Deborah
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
I enjoyed Giles' writing and the voice he gave to Samuel - the way he mimicked / repeated the words of his parents / Ruth - but I agree with other reviews... we went around in circles a lot before the final scenes and I didn't find Samuel particularly engaging or Ruth very consistent.

Given 4mths had passed since Samuel's mother had left it seemed a little strange that he was now suddenly becoming agitated.

As for the final scenes... they were a tad confusing and frustrating after such a slow bu
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Diane Hernandez
Aug 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Boy at the Keyhole is a suspenseful psychological thriller by a debut author.

In 1961, nine-year-old Samuel is at home in England with his housekeeper, Ruth. His father is dead and his mother is searching for business investors in America. Samuel is concerned because his mother has been gone four months. Her only contact are bi-monthly postcards from America. Ruth tries to cut expenses as much as possible but the home’s artwork is being sold to pay the bills. Where is Samuel’s mother and why isn’
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Audra (ouija.doodle.reads)
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: thriller
A young boy's mother goes away in the night without saying a word, leaving him under the care of a stern housekeeper. But so much time passes that Samuel begins to think she didn't leave him at all, but rather something more nefarious happened—and someone is covering it up.

I love the idea of this book, but it didn't work for me. The good news is that it is a very quick, one-sitting type read that doesn't ask to be drawn out.

The comparisons to Shirley Jackson and Daphne du Maurier lean solely on
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Carolyn
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thank you NetGalley and Harlequin/Hanover Press for the advance copy of this tension filled novel of psychological suspense. I found myself riveted to each page from its beginning to the startling conclusion. I would have liked a short aftermath, but found it more compelling than other mysteries I have read lately. There is a small cast of characters in a deteriorating manor with little physical action but lots of mental stress and strain.

Samuel is a nine year old boy living in an impoverished
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JE Owen
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book. Its hard to write about this without giving away spoilers so I'll say nothing at all about the plot except that it is a nail biting read, your belief about what is going on twists and turns as the story develops.
Wonderful characters that just seem so real.
5 out of 5!
Robin
Haunting and dark as hell. Memorable.

Only readalike I can think of without giving away any plot points is Iain Reid's I'M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS.

Thanks to the publisher for the advance reading copy.
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
Nine-year-old Samuel Clay lives with the family's housekeeper, Ruth, on a deteriorating English estate.  His father has died and his mother has traveled to America to secure capital for their failing business.

It's been over five months since Samuel has spoken to his mother; he receives random postcards from her and marks her locations in an atlas in the study.  He misses her terribly and is upset she left in the middle of the night without saying goodbye.

Samuel's imagination runs wild and all it
...more
Lisa
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: september-2018
Thank you Harlequin Press for an e-copy of The Boy at the Keyhole for review.
This short little novel was pretty dark. Nine year old Samuel’s mother left one night without a word for business in America. He is left with the housekeeper, Ruth, with only sporadic postcards to remember her by. As Samuel wonder if his mother will ever come back, he starts to suspect that maybe something more sinister is afoot. Maybe Ruth killed her, and he needs the proof.
Very quick little story, I liked the tone an
...more
Coleen
Sep 16, 2018 rated it liked it
There are essentially two main characters in this story: nine year old Samuel, and the housekeeper Ruth. Samuel's mother left the home [more of an estate] in England in the middle of the night without any contact with Samuel, presumably going to America to seek funds to continue the family business and maintain their estate.

From there, the book seems to drag. At least, it did for me. Occasionally another person, such as Samuel's best friend, or the gardener on the estate, makes an appearance. Bu
...more
Jamie Canaves
I picked this up because it had a comparison to Shirley Jackson and while I was initially hesitant, because those comps never work out for me, I totally saw it. It isn’t the characters from We Have Always Lived in the Castle but it is the similar vibe of the mystery, and everything basically taking place all in the house. In this case Samuel, a nine-year-old British boy, is desperately missing his mother who abruptly left to America without saying goodbye. Cared for only by Ruth, the housekeeper ...more
SheLovesThePages
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was given this book by Netgalley and Hanover Square Press to review. Publication Date-Sept 4, 2018.

This book is set in England and has that upstairs/downstairs vibe. It is told through the eyes of a 9 year old boy who suspects the housekeeper of killing his mother.
The writing is well done. And just when you think you may have it figured out, you don’t. So it does have you guessing throughout.
It is a short, fast read. Made me anxious reading it. The story does seem hurried, it seemed that it st
...more
Melissa
Sep 23, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm struggling with The Poppy War, so for a quick afternoon read I picked up this, a speedily-digested treatise on the importance of not forcing one to comply with gender roles for which one is ill-suited & also not participating in campaigns of misinformation against young children.
Kelly Hager
This is one of the creepiest, saddest books I've ever read. We don't know what's happened to Samuel's mom and we don't know who's right. And obviously either Ruth is a woman who's taking care of a boy who's getting increasingly disturbed and trying to keep a house from falling apart and doing everything she can to keep money coming in and food on the table, or Samuel's right and she's a monster who killed his mom. There's really ample evidence for either interpretation.

As I read, I kept finding
...more
Joe
May 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This to me is the quintessential two star book. If you looked up "Goodreads two star rating" in a dictionary, there should be a picture of The Boy at the Keyhole.

Everything about this was fine. The dialogue, the pacing, the plot - all perfectly fine and serviceable. Nothing wrong with any of it, but nothing awe-inspiring - or even above average - either. This is a tight little psychological "thriller." I did not find it especially thrilling myself. I found it to be... fine.

At 268 pages this is
...more
Tonstant Weader
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Imagine you’re a young boy whose father has died. Your mother is away looking for some money to keep the family business going. Imagine things disappearing from the house. Imagine you’re lonely and the only news of your mother comes in the form of short postcards from the across the ocean in America. Imagine there’s never a return address or a place you could call to speak to her. Imagine the months going by. and one by one, the other people in your life are going away, the maid laid off, the ga ...more
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