The Red Door by Rosa Fedele

‘He’s watching me.’

Glebe, Sydney, 1983. ‘Rosalind’ is a beautiful old mansion, divided into apartments, gradually being restored by its new owner. The new owner, a woman whose name we don’t learn until near the end of the novel, is herself a bit of a mystery. One amongst many. Renovation of the mansion has challenges, some inexplicable occurrences, as well as a reclusive resident in Apartment 3.
And when the owner discovers that the man in Apartment 3 has the same surname as two teenage sisters brutally murdered over thirty years earlier, she is concerned. Can he be connected to the murders? They’ve never been solved. She becomes obsessed with the crime, obsessed with the tenant, and in danger of destroying her own newly-formed friendships.

I needed to concentrate while reading this novel: there is a lot of action, there are many different characters, with different perspectives to follow. The perspectives change frequently and can be confusing, especially as some of the characters have secrets to hide. All of this serves to heighten the suspense. I thought I’d worked out key parts, such as who had murdered the sisters, only to find that I was wrong. Sigh. I did work out other elements, though, and I found the actual solution more satisfying.

One element of the novel frustrated me: I could see no reason why the reader shouldn’t know the name of the protagonist much earlier in the novel. Why did that need to be a mystery, or was it simply a distancing technique? Overall, I enjoyed Ms Fedele’s debut novel, beautifully enhanced by her original artwork. Most of the different threads are brought to a satisfying conclusion. And, for those who wondered what the future might hold for some of the characters, Ms Fedele’s second novel ‘The Legacy of Beauregard’ is about to be published (in July 2018).

If you enjoy mystery novels and novels set in Sydney with more than a few interesting twists, you may well enjoy this.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith