As The Killer Next Door opens we meet Cheryl (Cher), being interviewed by detectives about a spate of murders involving someone associated with her apartment complex.
The detectives are taking it easy on runaway Cher who – although worldly for her young age – seems pretty slow on the uptake.
The police interview is pretty much over when a new detective joins the questioning. The newcomer is from the Organised Crime Unit and is more interested in one of Cher’s fellow residents. One under an assumed name, who’s now missing and who may have been one of the (many) murder victims located (around) the complex.
We then step back in time to meet the residents of 23 Beulah Grove. It’s the sort of place where cash is king and dodgy landlord (Roy) is happy to skip the paperwork if you can pay up front.
The six residents of Beulah Grove pretty much mind their own business – except for Roy that is – who thinks everyone else’s business is his own. Indeed, everyone seems to be hiding from something and it’s then we learn more about the missing girl – Lisa (now Collette) and how she came to be residing in the building.
A range of mishaps force the residents to rely on each other more than expected, breaking down their many barriers.
Of course it’s almost too late when they discover there’s a murderer living amongst them.
I enjoyed this novel by Alex Marwood far more than I expected. We readers come to care about the lead characters; and the support cast are developed enough that we get a sense of who they are, without really giving anything away.
Indeed – although we know (from the blurb and the prologue) that someone in the apartment complex is a killer – it’s relatively hard to pick it until the end. And the end itself isn’t predictable, which is something I appreciated.
The array of characters also allow the book to touch on an many social issues – from aged care to the plight of refugees and single non-custodial parenting.
The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood will be published by Penguin Books on 28 October 2014.
I received an advance copy of this novel via NetGalley from the publisher.