A Noise Downstairs
By: Linwood Barclay
Publicaiton Date: 7/24/2018
My Rating: 5 Stars +
Top Books of 2018 The New York Times bestselling author of No Time for Goodbye returns with a haunting psychological thriller that blends the twists and turns of Gillian Flynn with the driving suspense of Harlan Coben, in which a man is troubled by odd sounds for which there is no rational explanation. 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 that the typewriter is somehow connected to the murderer he discovered nearly a year ago. But that guy is in prison and he worked alone so how could the typewriter have anything to do with the crime? Increasingly tormented but determined to discover the truth, Paul begins reinvestigating 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. . .
Internationally bestselling author Linwood Barclay returns following his Promise Falls Trilogy Parting Shot, landing on my Top Books of 2017 with his latest "mind-bending" addictive “who done it” creepy psychological thriller A NOISE DOWNSTAIRS.
Professor Paul Davis is awakened in the night by the sound of a manual typewriter. Eight months prior, Paul discovered a colleague was attempting to bury two women’s bodies (Jill and Catherine). A murder. He almost died himself in the process and is now in therapy with psychologist Anna. Wrong place. Wrong time.
He is haunted by the event. In order to deal with his nightmares and PTSD, he decides to write about his former friend and colleague, Kenneth (now in prison)— and interview him and those close to him— to help determine what led him to murder. Was Kenneth evil?
Possibly interview past relationships and the women's husbands. There were a lot of sides to Kenneth, and Paul wasn't sure he knows all of them. How could one man turn so quickly? He is sure this project will help him to deal and move on. To give him closure. Possibly if he could look into the eyes of evil in the real world, he would not have to run from it in his sleep. However, could it make things worse?
"Monsters can be very good at disguising themselves."
His wife (real estate agent) Charlotte is concerned about him and decides to give him an old manual Underwood for inspiration. Even though he will be using his laptop in his small makeshift office, the typewriter was meant to help him with his creativity (or was it)?
However, soon the gift turns into a real nightmare. Haunting. He awakens in the night hearing someone typing. Then there are typewritten notes. Paul is the only one who hears this. His wife suspects he may be sleepwalking and typing the notes himself. He is coming unglued. Delusional.
She is concerned about his mental health. However, Paul cannot discount the notes. He thinks they may be some sort of message from the deceased women for help. After all the colleague forced the women to write confessions before he murdered them. (there is much more at play here than a gaslighting).
Even though Paul saw Kenneth dump a typewriter in a dumpster the night of the murder, he was struck down and never returned to the dumpster to see if it could be the same typewriter. The cops say it was never found. His wife says she found it at a yard sale.
Paul believes this typewriter was indeed the same one Kenneth made his victims write notes of apologies on.
Possibly, someone has broken into the house, but there are no signs. Does someone have a key? Is there something more sinister at play? (and then some)! Terrifying. A dark web of deception, lies, and betrayal. He ends up doubting his memory, perception, and his sanity.
With an array of characters and suspects: From Charlotte (wife), Bill (friend), Paul’s son (Josh), ex-wife, her new husband, Anna (psychologist) and her other disturbed patient (Gavin-he his a piece of work), Anna’s father (Frank), Kenneth (prison), Kenneth’s wife (Gabriella), or son (Len) . . . among others.
From the mysterious, strange typewriter sounds to the eerie music from the ice cream truck, and the impending danger, A NOISE DOWNSTAIRS will send a chill up the spin. There may be more than one gaslighter with an agenda.
Loved this book! Captivating. Tense. Atmospheric. Hitchcockian. Chilling.
A NOISE DOWNSTAIRS is a brilliant mix of Barclay’s signature style, as seen time and again in his Promise Falls series and other works. He is a master at character development, connecting the strangest of characters, a pro at developing complex multi-level plots, with unexpected twists, keeping the suspense high, with fast-paced action and dramatic storytelling. The reader is always guessing with an array of red herrings to keep you on your toes.
After reading this “movie-worthy” suspense thriller (have not slept very well since-insomnia), Barclay has done his job superbly. A hidden scheme, manipulation, and gaslighting on steroids. Multi-layered and complex. A regular guy questioning his own sanity, where everyone is a suspect.
When thinking about how to write a review and describe this delicious novel, I came up with the following reading comparisons. My take: A mix of dark, light, funny, scary, mind-bending, suspense, mind-blowing, and a heck of a “who done it” psychological thriller. Reminds me a bit of a “noir” old classic black and white movie.
It has a strong Stephen King/Gillian Flynn vibe with eerie scenes, unsettling tension, supernatural feel, compulsively readable and wacky characters. There is always the question of doubt second-guessing one’s sanity or is it the dead trying to send a message for help?
Next, you have the intelligent writing, superb character development, suspense, fast-paced action, clever twists and intricate plotting of Michael Connelly and Michael Robotham.
However, with all of this, it possesses the light, quirky, cozy mystery; endearing, heart-wrenching, and hilarious; (human side) — similar to Fredrik Backman and Elizabeth Berg's characters which I find appealing. I found this to be a nice balance with the characters in particular, of Anna (the psychologist) and her Frank (her father- loved him). Also, the relationship between Anna and her client (Paul).
PS The funeral scene was hilarious! My favorite characters: Anna and Frank. Poor Paul does not stand a chance.
In summary, I read Linwood Barclay’s A NOISE DOWNSTAIRS and Michael Robotham’s The Other Wife – back to back. Talk about adrenaline high! Insomnia is still ongoing from these two intense novels. Both are on my Top Books of 2018. Be sure and move both to the top of your list! Two of my favorite authors.
A Note to the author: Would love to learn the inspiration behind this novel. Secondly, Linwood, I think Anna may be a good character to start a new series like Robotham’s kind-hearted psychologist with the flawed family (Joseph O'Loughlin). Her patients are off to a great start here, as well as the stories from the new residence. Just sayin’ . . .
An avid fan of Linwood Barclay, (have read ALL of his books) —with the exception of his children’s books— currently picking up those for my grandchildren. Highly recommend this author and his novels. Was delighted to snag an ARC from HarperCollins and Edelweiss. A special thank you!
“Linwood Barclay’s novels – as intelligent as Michael Connelly’s, as compelling as Harlan Coben’s – never fail to astonish. A Noise Downstairs, his best work yet, is a cobra of a story: smooth, slippery, unnerving . . . and likely to strike when you least expect it. I devoured this book.”
—A. J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window
“Vintage Barclay – A Noise Downstairs is an utterly compelling read with a twist you won’t see coming. I loved it!”
—Shari Lapena, New York Times bestselling author of A Stranger in the House and The Couple Next Door
"Prepared to be blindsided by an ending you didn’t see coming. Barclay’s nerve-wracking tale will have readers scared to close their eyes at night.
“[A] fast-paced psychological thriller . . . Barclay carefully conceals hidden motives and secret lives until the startling conclusion. Harlan Coben fans will find much to like.”
“[A] twisty psychological tale . . . a satisfying and clever novel. The large cast and the story’s many moving parts perfectly set the reader up for the final climactic twist.”
About the Author
Linwood Barclay is the #1 internationally bestselling author of thirteen novels, including Trust Your Eyes, A Tap on the Window, No Time for Goodbye and that novel's followup, No Safe House.
This summer, his thriller Broken Promise, the first of three linked novels about his fictional upstate New York town Promise Falls, will be released. Book two will come nine months later, and another nine months after that, the conclusion will be released.
Over the years, several of Barclay's novels have been optioned for film and television. Most recently, No Time for Goodbye has been optioned for television in France, and in 2012, Trust Your Eyes was the object of a film rights bidding war between Universal and Warner Bros.
After spending his formative years helping run a cottage resort and trailer park after his father died when he was 16, Barclay got his first newspaper job at the Peterborough Examiner, a small Ontario daily. In 1981, he joined the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest circulation newspaper.
He held such positions as assistant city editor, chief copy editor, news editor, and Life section editor, before becoming the paper’s humour columnist in 1993. He was one of the paper’s most popular columnists before retiring from the position in 2008 to work exclusively on books.
In 2004, he launched his mystery series about an anxiety-ridden, know-it-all, pain-in-the-butt father by the name of Zack Walker. Bad Move, the first book, was followed by three more Zack Walker thrillers: Bad Guys, Lone Wolf, and Stone Rain.
His first standalone thriller, No Time for Goodbye, was published in 2007 to critical acclaim and great international success. The following year, it was a Richard and Judy Summer Read selection in the UK, and did seven straight weeks at #1 on the UK bestseller list.
The book has been sold around the world and been translated into nearly thirty languages.
Barclay was born in the United States but moved to Canada just before turning four years old when his father, a commercial artist whose illustrations of cars appeared in Life, Look and Saturday Evening Post (before photography took over), accepted a position with an advertising agency north of the border. Barclay, who graduated with an English literature degree from Trent University, in Peterborough, Ontario, was fortunate to have some very fine mentors; in particular, the celebrated Canadian author Margaret Laurence, whom Linwood first met when she served as writer-in-residence at Trent, and Kenneth Millar, who, under the name Ross Macdonald, wrote the acclaimed series of mystery novels featuring detective Lew Archer. It was at Trent that he met Neetha, the woman who would become his wife. They have two children, Spencer and Paige. Read More