Support Water at Lulutho on JustGiving
TDP profile

The Drowning People

An international bestselling tale of an old man who kills his wife—and the crazy things people do for love. Written when the author was 19, his debut won Italy’s Grinzane Cavour Prize for Best First Novel.

The Drowning People

US hardback

The Drowning People

UK paperback


  • ‘An Oxonian Literary Sensation… Mason’s twist on his generation’s cynicism is that his narrator has, in fact, seen it all.’ The New York Times Book Review
  • ‘An amazing novel….  How [Mason] could have so much wisdom and insight is baffling….  His elders will be jealous of his storytelling ability, not to mention his beautiful command of the language.  His descriptions are lyrical and his take on British high society uncanny….  A literary gem.’ The San Francisco Examiner
  • ‘Early fame earned ….  A story of the torments of youth, the blush and bravado of first love and the anchoring bonds of friendship….  Mason’s take on the world and the human condition is often more sagacious than many people twice his age, and the scope of his writing talent is broader than some writers with many books in their cannons.’ The Denver Post
  • ‘Page-turner … A sweeping, romantic thriller set in the rarefied world of the English upper class….  Glamorous, ghostly, and decadent in the tradition of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, the novel is quite an achievement - at any age.’ Plum Sykes, in Vogue
  • ‘The much-hyped literary thriller/romance actually is hype-worthy.’ Esquire
  • ‘The Drowning People is this summer’s A Secret History, and author Richard Mason is the publishing world’s latest Donna Tartt….  Anyone who doesn’t lap up [this book] in a few breathless sittings doesn’t know how to have fun on vacation’ Newsday
  • ‘What is most stunning of all is his intelligent grasp of the tangled emotions of a man in his seventies…. Mason’s perception of the interior life … his comprehension of the forces that motivate betrayal and revenge, and his command of language result in a story that is, in the literal sense of the word, unforgettable.’ The San Diego Union-Tribune 
  • ‘The current king of the hot young writers … is Richard Mason.’ The Times
  • ‘One of the most talked about first novels of 1999.  If you want to be au courant with modern fiction, you will need to read it… Mason is capable of thrilling concision: densely packed sentences pregnant with ideas; vivid descriptions; terse, epigrammatic dialogue.' Sunday Telegraph
  • ‘Assured, well-paced and ambitious … the writing is a delight.  An exceptional achievement.' The Guardian
  • ‘Redolent of early Evelyn Waugh…. Mason already displays narrative drive, verbal skill and technical mastery.' The Express
  • ‘Compelling - nodding to Fitzgerald in both its Gatsby-esque world of beautiful people smoking elegantly and luminous women named Ella.' GQ
  • ‘Gripping, psychological drama.' Elle Magazine
  • ‘I became so entranced by this mystery that I actually considered being late to collect the kids from school rather than put it down….  Unrequited love, guilt and rivalry among the English upper classes abound, with seductive surprises and an epic twist at the end.  But it is the 19th-century narrative style, complete with marvellous character descriptions, that makes this novel so winsome.  Utter indulgence.' Kate Figes in Woman’s Journal
  • ‘A very impressive first novel … the story immediately hooks you until the end… The pacing and control of the plot, too, have the confidence of an experienced hand.  His themes and upright retrospective tone echo Daphne du Maurier and John Fowles … Exceptional.' The Times
  • ‘As a study of the awesome power of first love, it dazzles….  Mason, awesomely for one so young, writes with a style both spare and powerful.' Birmingham Post
  • ‘Very enjoyable and nearly irresistible.…   A wallow in a world of High Romance, with more than a touch of Gothic extravagance … Many readers will adore it.  It is the kind of novel which, as Stella Gibbons’s heroine Flora Poste said of the Victorian novels in which she delighted, you can “read in a hot bath while eating apples” … A remarkable achievement.’ The Scotsman
  • ‘Richard Mason [is] the Boy Wonder of fiction.’ Birmingham Post
  • ‘Of young British voices, Richard Mason is flavour of the year.' The Financial Times
  • ‘A remarkable book, addressing dark themes of lost love, guilt and depression.' Yorkshire Evening News
  • ‘Engrossing and beautifully written.’ Cambridge Evening News 
  • ‘The Drowning People is a great read, a suspense-filled blockbuster with brains, a slice of French silk pie sprinkled with bits of broken glass….  It’s a brilliantly written book, a profound statement on love and revenge and what some people will do to get it, and it sucks you into its evil, murky plot like a little bird into an airplane engine.' Miriam Toews in The Globe and Mail
  • ‘It seems almost unfair that Mason’s work is actually very good … a passionate, engrossing story.' Macleans (Summer Reading Recommendations)
  • ‘Drowning in talent….  All-round super-Brit Richard Mason shows uncommon nerve by infusing a confessional narrative with gothic creepiness, touches of the whodunit formula and yes, a beguiling probe of disturbed psychology….  Mason’s limpid prose, his sharp eye for the frenzied courtship rituals of London society and his fascination with the clash of British and American attitudes, bring to mind the settings favoured by Henry James and Edith Wharton….  Mason does a marvellous job capturing the decay and vitality of post-communist Prague….  Audacious from beginning to end.  His impersonation of a 70-year-old narrator, full of envy and resentment for his younger, romantic self, is a winning one.  The prose runs clear, carrying the reader along with a terrific buoyancy.' Toronto Star
  • ‘An amazing debut novel.' The Province 
  • ‘Must read… Mason keeps the reader in suspense, daring you to turn the pages faster and faster as he unpeels the layers of the story.  Just when you think you know what’s going on, he whips the rug away from under your feet, and you’re left with your mouth open, gawping at the things these characters can do.' Cleo
  • ‘If his debut novel … is an example of what Mason can achieve at his first go, no one quite has the nerve to imagine what may come next.' Elle Magazine
  • ‘Richard Mason is a compelling writer.  The characters he created are so mature, their thoughts gleaned from a lifetime of travelling life’s road that at times I just had to stop reading and marvel at how an 18-year-old could have such insight, such presence.  The story is brilliant, with a touch of madness, wickedness, fate, consuming love and jealousy.  Richard Mason must be the novelist of the next century.' Sunshine Coast Sunday
  • Mason ‘shows extraordinary talent; the subtleties and depth of plot of this work are deliciously palatable.  All the many streams of events lead unerringly to a satisfying and well-hidden climax.'  The Examiner
  • ‘It would be very easy to write Mason off.  Very easy to deride The Drowning People simply because he’s 20, rich and about to become richer.  But it cannot be ignored - Mason is a very talented young man and The Drowning People is the work of someone wise beyond his years….  Mason is clearly a major writing discovery.' Sunday Mail
  • ‘This tale of obsessive love and murder is a real crowd-pleaser: complex without being impenetrable, pacy and with at least some ambitions to be more than a thriller. [Told] in remarkably assured prose.' Inside Melbourne
  • ‘I loved it.' The Star
  • ‘One cannot help but be amazed while reading this exceptional story that this is the writer’s first novel….  It is beautifully told and if this is what he comes up with the first time, hang around.  A remarkable book.' Pretoria News
  • ‘Having read the hype before the book, I was convinced that one who had experienced so little of life couldn’t possibly pull if off.  That he has, and so utterly brilliantly, is nothing short of remarkable….  He’ll no doubt have attained cult status by the ripe old age of 30.' The Mercury
  • ‘Thrilling tangle of emotional motive and error…. [Mason] segues us from past to present to past. So skilfully does he achieve this that you marvel at his maturity…. There are clever cliffhangers teasing us on, our nerve ends aflame. There is delicious menace, there are tragedies almost too terrible to bear, but it is the final intertwine that will truly set your heart aleaping.' The Cape Times
  • Mason shows ‘Astonishing psychological maturity and linguistic sophistication.' Die Welt
  • ‘You’ll rush through it.' Marie Claire
  • ‘An unusually thrilling love story, and the hymns of praise - somewhere between Daphne du Maurier and Donna Tartt - aren’t exaggerated.' Allegra
  • ‘One of the most artful and intelligent of all psychological thrillers.' Die Aktuelle
  • ‘Subtly erotic and thrilling to the last page.' Neue Revue
  • ‘A fateful, finely-woven love story in the best English narrative tradition.' Prinz
  • ‘A fateful and thrilling love story.  The finely-woven and psychologically deft story is in the best traditions of English storytelling.' Bremer Anzeiger
  • ‘Exciting and brilliantly written.' Badische Zeitung
  • ‘Forceful and brilliantly described … a shocking family tragedy.'  Live Journal
  • ‘A dream debut from Richard Mason.' Man Magazine
  • ‘Mason deftly sifts present and past, blending them beautifully… a magnificent debut.' Limburgs Dagblad
  • ‘An amazing, wonderful, literary debut with a classical writing style and perfectly conceived characters.' General Press Association
  • ‘A sensational debut … Mason makes a shattering impression with his first literary novel.' Brabants Dagblad
  • ‘With subtle stealth Mason keeps the tension up…’ De Volkskrant 

The Complete Collection