The Companion by Lesley Thomson | Book Review | #TheCompanion

In a grand old mansion in the middle of the Sussex countryside, seven people have seen more than they should… The new chilling thriller from Lesley Thomson.

James Ritchie was looking forward to a boys’ day out with his son, Wilbur – even if he was a little late picking him up from the home of his ex-wife, Anna. Annoyed by his late arrival, and competing for their son’s attention, Anna leaves the two of them to their day with the promise of a roast dinner when Wilbur returns.

But Anna will never see her family again. That afternoon, James and Wilbur are found dead, the victims of a double stabbing on the beach.

DI Toni Kemp, of Sussex police, must unravel a case which has shocked the county to its core. What she discovers will lead her to Blacklock House, a grand country mansion, long ago converted into flats. Here in the middle of nowhere, where a peacock struts the lawn, and a fountain plays intermittently, seven long-term residents have seen more than they should.

But this is a community who are good at keeping secrets…

‘Like the best of Barbara Vine and Agatha Christie crossed with the unique Lesley Thomson brilliance’ Elly Griffiths


My thanks to Sophie Ransom of Ransom PR for the tour invite and for arranging for a lovely hardback copy to be sent. I read from a PDF copy but the hardback is a book of beauty.

This is the first book by Lesley Thomson that I’ve read and I believe that the characters of Freddy and DI Antonia ‘Toni’ Kemp first appear in a previous book, Death of a Mermaid. Not having read that one wasn’t an issue for me and The Companion can easily be read as a standalone.

James Ritchie and his son Wilbur will not be the only victims in this intriguing crime story. Set around the Sussex coast, there are a number of characters to get to know, including The Companion of the title. Timothy Mew is a strange fellow. In his twenties, he has delusions of grandeur and his placing by an organisation, ‘Cuckoo’s Nest’, with a resident in Blacklock House, an old converted country house in the countryside causes unsettling ripples amongst the other residents. In return for shopping, driving and company, he gets to live in a manner way above his means and does he make the most of it!

Timothy isn’t the only odd character that causes disquiet. For me, the story was a mix of police procedural and cosy crime, add in a nod to Agatha Christie and I hope I have painted an accurate picture. Readers who like their crime on the hard side might feel that this is rather light as there are no gory murders on the page, however it is the myriad of characters and the secrets they are hiding that give Toni Kemp more than a few headaches in her quest to find a killer. No wonder she resorts to her age old habit of shoplifting Snickers bars!

Local fishmonger, Freddy Power (aka Freddy the Fish) and Toni are long time friends and they work well together. In part due to her fish delivery job, Freddy has a little more insight into the goings on at Blacklock House and becomes rather more involved than she expects. Apart from Kemp and her sergeant, she was one of the few characters that I actually liked, although to be fair, one or two of the others grew on me over the course of the story.

I’m trying not to give too much away about the plot, but suffice to say The Companion is an entertaining and at times, quite suspenseful read and I did enjoy it. This is foremost a crime story but there are some underlying recurring themes in the story, one being loneliness. With well described, atmospheric backdrops, some rather unusual characters ranging from the eccentric to the odious together with a well plotted mystery, it was one that I was completely invested in and although I thought I had sussed out the killer, I was well and truly beaten by the final reveal.


Lesley Thomson’s first novel Seven Miles From Sydney,1987 was one of London’s City Limit’s Books of that year. A Kind of Vanishing won The People’s Book Prize. The Detective’s Daughter series has sold over 850K copies. The Sunday Times said of The Distant Dead, 2021, ‘Lesley Thomson can make your flesh creep at will. Her sense of place, during the Blitz or in the present, is remarkable.’ The Companion is Lesley’s latest novel.  Lesley lives in Sussex with her partner and dog.

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