Hogan, Phil - 'A Pleasure and a Calling'
A PLEASURE AND A CALLING is a very unusual book, that has as its protagonist an estate agent with an unusual predilection for collecting copies of the front door keys of all the houses he has visited in the course of his profession. William Heming, who tells his story in the first person, is sent to work in an estate agency during the summer holidays after being expelled from a minor public school. He enjoys the experience so much that he tells his aunt (his parents have died) that he doesn't want to be sent to a sixth form college but wants to stay there. So over a period of a few years he learns everything there is to know about the estate agency business and using an inheritance buys the business himself. So he becomes the owner of the business with several people working for him.
Using his knowledge of the property business he buys land very cheaply and becomes a landlord and quite wealthy but still lives very simply. His collection of keys enables him to slip in and out of people's houses, whenever he feels like it. Death seem to follow William all through his life, both from childhood and into adulthood and how he handles these is the crux of most of the story. During walks around the town he sees attractive ladies and when the whim takes him he creepily follows them and notes where they live and when they go out he will enter their home and find out lots about them building up extensive files, he will perhaps make himself a coffee and take a few biscuits from their cupboard if he feels like it, and then he'll slip out.
The deaths start to pile up and the police detectives are very puzzled but we the readers know more than them.
This was a most enjoyable book and I am surprised I haven't read any of the author's three previous novels before as he is a name I will have to look out for. I highly recommend this book.
Terry Halligan, England
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