“A compelling tale about the abuses of power. Engrossing.”


The Octopus is a début novel from Tess Little which tells the story of Elspeth Bell who attends her ex-husband’s 50th birthday. Elspeth arrives at the party expecting a massive crowded party but is instead met by a group of seven guests and Richard’s pet Octopus, Persephone watching over them. Come morning though, the host is dead and each of the eight guests is soon under suspicion.

This mystery novel is broken up into three sections to tell the story. The first section jumps back and forth in time from the night of Richard’s party to the subsequent investigation of the host’s death that follows. The second section leaves the reader on a slight cliff-hanger, leaving the investigation on hold and jumping ahead to Richard’s funeral and exploring Richard and Elspeth’s past together, jumping back and forth in time again. While the final section catches the reader up with ‘present’ day and finally unravels all the twists and turns and uncovers the last few shocking revelations.

The Octopus is a thoroughly shocking novel at times with some scenes that may be difficult to read for some readers as it explores issues of substance abuse, domestic abuse and coercive control, and the fraught friendships and family relationships.

Tess Little’s début, The Octopus is an intriguing mystery which somewhat resembles a Cluedo style, house party ‘Who-dunnit?’ It also plays with the idea of reality, perception and memory, in a gripping style that keeps the reader in the dark about what truly happened until the very last moment.


Reviewed by:

Catherine Muxworthy, Booksbirdblog

Added 10th August 2020

More Reviews By
Catherine Muxworthy