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by Linwood Barclay
William Morrow, July 2018
368 pages
ISBN: 0062678256

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In his latest thriller, A NOISE DOWNSTAIRS, Linwood Barclay again gives us the kind of creepy murder mystery his fans adore. Paul Davis is in the throes of recovery from a head injury sustained when a friend and colleague, Kenneth Hoffman, tried to kill him. He had interrupted Hoffman as he was attempting to dispose of the bodies of two dead women. Although time has passed, Paul is not doing well and cannot remember things that happen. His wife Charlotte, a realtor, tries to help him, but she begins to doubt his sanity as well. As he becomes more and more paranoid, he tells his therapist, Dr. Anna White, that he wants to explore Hoffman's life because he feels that understanding the man's motives will help him heal.

Meanwhile, we meet another of Dr. White's patients, a frighteningly ill man named Gavin Hitchens, who enjoys torturing people by discovering what they have lost and finding ways to dangle a facsimile of it in front of them. It seems that he has found a way to read the therapist's files and is now playing his "tricks" on her patients. Could Gavin be creating the weird events that are happening to Paul? He seems a likely suspect. Dr. White herself has family problems, as her aged father who lives with her has begun to show signs of dementia. He speaks to her patients when he should not and often goes into her car to visit his dead wife and then falls asleep. Could Gavin be playing tricks on her as well?

Things get more complicated when Charlotte gifts Paul with an old fashioned typewriter. He loves it, but then the typewriter becomes linked to elements of the murders. In the middle of the night, he hears the typewriter keys clacking downstairs and finds notes when he wakes up. Charlotte says she does not hear anything. Are Paul's problems the result of a brain trauma, or is there an element of the supernatural working here? He begins to believe that there is a ghost in his house.

Nothing is quite what it appears to be. As the novel goes on, we find our assumptions challenged and our beliefs about the characters and events overturned. A NOISE DOWNSTAIRS is a most engrossing and, in the end, satisfying mystery.

Anne Corey is a writer, poet, teacher and botanical artist in New York's Hudson Valley.

Reviewed by Anne Corey, May 2018

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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