Review: Honour Thy Father

Blogger and NetGalley reviewer Susan Riaz gives her opinions on The Murder Room’s Editor’s Pick for May, Honour Thy Father.




This is another welcome reissue, by The Murder Room, of an out of print, or hard to find, novel by a classic crime writer – in this case Lesley Glaister, who was ‘discovered’ in 1989 by no less an author than Hilary Mantel. This is her debut novel, which won both the Somerset Maugham and the Betty Trask Awards. 

Honour Thy Father is a dark and unsettling book about four sisters – Agatha, the eldest, Milly, our narrator and the twins Ellen and Esther, who exist very much in a private and enclosed world of their own devising. When we are introduced to the sisters they are elderly and living in squalor in the family home, once ruled over by their father, now long dead. Gradually we discover that things are not as they should be. Why is Milly so keen to count the knives before she puts them away and who, precisely, is George, who is locked in the cellar?

Using both conversations between Agatha and Milly, plus flashbacks to the past, we slowly come to understand how the sisters have been left in their current situation – unmarried, dissatisfied and resentful and harbouring the darkest of secrets. This is an assured and well-crafted debut and it is the first, but certainly not the last, novel I will read by Lesley Glaister. 

Discover The Murder Room’s collection of classic Lesley Glaister mysteries here.