“A Noise Downstairs” by Linwood Barclay begins with an attack. Paul sees his friend Kenneth’s car and fears there is something wrong. Something is wrong, very wrong; Paul spots two bodies, both wrapped in plastic. Then everything goes black. Kenneth was his friend, and Kenneth tried to murder him.
Eight Months later, Paul is seeing therapist Dr. Anna White. He is recovering from the significant head trauma and is haunted by what Kenneth did. He is having nightmares, flashbacks, episodes of disassociation, and panic attacks. He wants to write about the trauma, hoping that the process will help him to understand, to cope, and to move ahead with his life. His wife buys him a used Underwood, and he commences to use the vintage typewriter to put words on the page. Then, in the middle of the night, he is startled awake. There is a noise downstairs, — clack, clack, clack. What has he done?
The action alternates between the interconnected stories of Paul and his therapist, Anna. Readers are pulled into the suspicion and trauma with a little clue here and a little incident there. Unknown the fears take shape, driven by strange happenings, sounds in the night, and mysterious calls to the police.
“It’s like a Twilight Zone episode. This can’t be happening. This has to be a nightmare.”
This is Barclay at his best. Readers ponder Paul’s nightmares, memory loss, obsession, determination, and optimism. “Sometimes things just have a way of working out.” However, when the end seems clear, is it really the end? In true Barclay fashion, there is a twist, an additional surprise, and an unexpected revelation.
Barclay takes readers on a perilous trip as characters slip into delusion, paranoia, and mental instability. I received a copy of “A Noise Downstairs” from Linwood Barclay, William Morrow, and HarperCollins Publishers, and I could not put it down.