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Saturday 28 July 2018

‘A Noise Downstairs’ by Linwood Barclay

Published by Orion Fiction,
12 July 2018.
ISBN: 978-1-40916398-5 (HB)

The Prologue opens describing how Paul Davis finds the bodies of two women in his friend Kenneth Hofman's car. He is then knocked unconscious by him.

Eight months later Paul is still suffering from headaches and sudden panic attacks and is very forgetful. Then things get really weird. He starts hearing a typewriter his wife bought in a garage sale and they keep downstairs being used, but his wife Charlotte can't hear anything. Even worse, when he puts a piece of paper in the machine one evening, messages start being typed on it overnight.

He is seeing a psychiatrist, a Doctor Anna White, and when he starts having bad nightmares about Kenneth coming after him, she agrees to go along with him to the prison to see Kenneth. He hopes it will help him understand why his friend carried out the murders. However, he comes away just as puzzled as before, and Kenneth cannot explain why he did it and why he made both women type letters of apology before he killed them. Apologies for what?

He now really starts to lose it, he becomes convinced that the messages which continue every night, are coming from the dead women and that they are trying to reach him from the grave. Even worse, in his deluded state he starts to believe the typewriter is the same one Kenneth made the women type their apologies on.

Anna suggests he voluntarily attends a psychiatric hospital, but his good friend Bill talks him out of it saying they may want to keep him in and then he will never find out the truth. However, how long can he go on as things are?

Kenneth's son Leonard seems to blame Paul for his father getting caught, can he have anything to do with the strange goings on? But how could he get in the house?

He really does get paranoid, what can he do, can he get to the bottom of the mystery before he completely loses his mind?
Wow, what a gripping, creepy story. It made me feel really sorry for Paul especially hearing things no one else could. No wonder it was driving him insane. I really found it a difficult book to put down, just had to keep reading the next chapter and then the next one!  Highly recommended, a very clever story full of shocks, surprises and unexpected twists.
Reviewer: Tricia Chappell

Linwood Barclay was born 1955 in Darien, Connecticut.  After graduating high school Barclay studied literature at Trent University in Peterborough. While at university, he began a correspondence with Ross Macdonald that proved inspirational for Barclay. They met once, at which time Macdonald inscribed one of his books to Barclay, "For Linwood, who will, I hope, someday outwrite me." After graduation, he could not sell any of his novels so he found work on a number of local newspapers, starting his journalism career in 1977 at the Peterborough Examiner, moved on to a small Oakville paper in 1979, and then to the Toronto Star in 1981 where he was, successively, assistant city editor, news editor, chief copy editor and Life section editor. He lives in Toronto with his wife, Neetha and two children.

Tricia Chappell. I have a great love of books and reading, especially crime and thrillers. I play the occasional game of golf (when I am not reading). My great love is cruising especially to far flung places, when there are long days at sea for plenty more reading! I am really enjoying reviewing books and have found lots of great new authors.

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