Book review: A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay

Monday, July 9, 2018 Permalink

Linwood Barclay is one of my go-to authors, so I’ll snap up any book he releases. Recently I’ve been enjoying his Promise Falls series, but this is a standalone and – though elements are kinda ‘guessable’ – it’s still twisty and most definitely a great read. 

Book review: A Noise Downstairs by Linwood BarclayA Noise Downstairs
by Linwood Barclay
Published by Hachette Australia, Orion
on July 10th 2018
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: Psychological Thriller
ISBN: 9781409163992
Pages: 356

College professor Paul Davis is a normal guy with a normal life. Until, driving along a deserted road late one night, he surprises a murderer disposing of a couple of bodies. That’s when Paul’s "normal" existence is turned upside down. After nearly losing his own life in that encounter, he finds himself battling PTSD, depression, and severe problems at work. His wife, Charlotte, desperate to cheer him up, brings home a vintage typewriter—complete with ink ribbons and heavy round keys—to encourage him to get started on that novel he’s always intended to write.

However, the typewriter itself is a problem. Paul swears it’s possessed and types by itself at night. But only Paul can hear the noise coming from downstairs; Charlotte doesn’t hear a thing. And she worries he’s going off the rails.

Paul believes the typewriter is somehow connected to the murderer he discovered nearly a year ago. The killer had made his victims type apologies to him before ending their lives. Has another sick twist of fate entwined his life with the killer—could this be the same machine? Increasingly tormented but determined to discover the truth and confront his nightmare, Paul begins investigating the deaths himself.

But that may not be the best thing to do. Maybe Paul should just take the typewriter back to where his wife found it. Maybe he should stop asking questions and simply walk away while he can. . . .

When I say some of the twists here are predictable I don’t mean they’re telegraphed….. it’s more that they’re really the only answer. It seems unlikely but if something looks like a horse painted with stripes…. it’s not necessarily a zebra. Ummm… I think I was going for some donkey analogy there but lost track part way through.

Anyhoo… Paul is a great protagonist and likeable lead. We meet him but briefly before his near-death experience and then after, while he’s still recovering and share his distress as he seems to be forgetting things and – worst still – imagining them. Or is he?

And then there’s Anna, Paul’s therapist. She’s dealing with her father who’s slipping into dementia. In his moments of clarity he’s the man she remembers but they don’t last long and she’s struggling to keep her personal and professional lives separate. (And yes, I know Paul is married and there’s that whole patient / doctor thing but I liked the burgeoning overtures of romance between the pair….)

I suspect I liked Paul as he’s a lover of logic – as am I. He needed to understand why his former colleague and friend could suddenly go from a womanising but affable bloke to one who wantonly murdered his lovers and attempted to kill a man he’d been mentoring.

Similarly Paul thinks there must be some other reasons for the things he’s experiencing now. Although as I’m not a fan of the fantastic, I didn’t go down the ghostly path he ventured towards.

So, though I kinda guessed the bits and pieces I did not see the ending coming. I was rather sad about part of it. “Noooooo!” I wanted to scream. But didn’t. Of course the whole comeuppance / karma thing means most of the characters here didn’t escape unscathed.

Another great read-in-one-sitting, A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay will be published in Australia by Hachette and available from 10 July 2018.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review. 


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