I was provided with a copy of this book for free, courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, in exchange for my honest review. The following opinions are all my own.
I have made my love for Fredrik Backman’s work abundantly clear to all of my friends, coworkers, students, fellow “bookstagrammers,” and anyone else who even considers uttering the words “book” and “recommendations.” That’s why, when I read the synopsis of Mr. Flood’s Last Resort by Jess Kidd and caught wind of comparisons to Backman’s A Man Called Ove, I practically left burn marks on my mouse pad from racing to NetGalley to request an advance copy so quickly.
So friends, let me tell you how Mr. Flood’s Last Resort is like A Man Called Ove.
Both books feature a cantankerous old man and a thirty-something woman who starts getting to know him.
That’s it. Oh, and they are both captivating reads.
Okay. Now that’s REALLY it.
Beyond those two similarities, the two books are nothing alike.
Mr. Flood’s Last Resort is told from the perspective of a thirty-something woman named Maud who is employed as a home care worker. She has been assigned to Mr. Cathal Flood, a 6’9″ hoarder who lives in a mansion and was so verbally (and ultimately physically as well) abusive toward his previous care worker that the worker had a nervous breakdown and had to seek treatment. Maud’s calm demeanor and ability to brush off the verbal assaults directed toward her prove to be critical in her position with Mr. Flood, but when her best friend Renata starts pushing the theory that Mr. Flood’s wife’s deadly fall down the stairs was no accident, Maud finds herself in hot pursuit of answers from a man who refuses to share anything more than insults with her.
Did I mention that Maud sees (and hears) a host of spirits of saints? Or that super creepy things happen in the house with no explanation other than ghostly spirits? Or that as the book progresses, readers discover that Maud has secrets of her own that she is unwilling to share?
When I first started reading Mr. Flood’s Last Resort, while still in the mindset that Cathal Flood would be similar to Ove, I struggled a bit. If pitted against one another, Ove wouldn’t even hold a candle to the bitterness or malice or crudeness of Cathal Flood, and when I tried to imagine my overwhelmingly negative feelings toward him shifting, to any degree, it seemed impossible. Once I let go of the running comparison in my head, however, and I embraced Cathal Flood as a mysterious, hateful, potential murderer, I found myself completely hooked.
Much like Maud develops an overwhelming need for answers to the mystery she uncovers, I found myself desperate for those answers myself. As a result, I finished Mr. Flood’s Last Resort in two sittings, and my house could have been picked up in a tornado and set down in Oz without my noticing.
Jess Kidd’s writing is a thing of beauty in itself. Not only does Kidd paint vivid pictures of the characters and the world inside the mansion, but she also shrouds everything with such a veil of mystery. Discovering bits and pieces of Maud’s backstory through her dreams moves the book along at a nice pace after the slower pacing of the first few chapters, and I found myself wondering almost as much about what happened in her past as I did about what happened with the Flood family. Kidd also does an excellent job of crafting intriguing characters. Where Maud is even-keeled, Renata, her agoraphobic, transgender landlady/best friend, is dramatic. Where Maud is calm and respectful, Mr. Flood is eccentric and cruel. And Kidd has written all three of them in a way that I found myself invested in the full range of emotions they experience throughout the book.
The first few chapters admittedly move a tad slowly, and without revealing any spoilers, there was one particular plot twist that was fairly obvious to me from the get-go; however,I genuinely found myself guessing about what actually happened until the very end and literally did not put down the book for the last 75%.
This is a book for readers who enjoy a good mystery, with bonus points for those who love ghost stories and quirky characters.