Book review stop! Today I’m delighted to be the host for The Downstairs Neighbour, a psychological thriller written by H. Cooper.
First thing first, let me thank Victoria and the author for providing me with an e-copy of this book. Much obliged *hat tip*
MEET THE BOOK
One House. Three Families. Countless Secrets.
From her downstairs apartment in suburban London, Emma has often overheard the everyday life of the seemingly perfect family upstairs–Steph, Paul and teenage daughter Freya–but has never got to know them. Until one day, she hears something that seizes her attention: Freya has vanished and the police are questioning Steph and Paul about their life. Do either of you have any enemies? Anyone who might want to harm or threaten you?
The effects of Freya’s disappearance ripple outward, affecting not just her parents, but everyone who lives in the building, including Emma and local driving instructor Chris, who was the last person to see the teenager before she went missing. Each character’s life is thrown into sharp focus as devastating mistakes and long-held secrets are picked apart and other crimes come to light–including a child gone missing 25 years before, and a shocking murder–that make clear that the past never stays where we leave it, and that homes can be built on foundations of lies.
Publication date: 04/02/21
READ MY REVIEW
Cover: Yay for the tiny building, nay for the orange background.
The Downstairs Neighbours is a thriller I picked almost as an afterthought. I had no expectations going in and I ended up being surprised—in a good way! Cooper’s debut is a captivating read, featuring mystery and secrets in equal measure.
The focus is on Steph and Peter, Freya’s parents, but other chapters feature different POVs, too. I quite like the red herrings Cooper peppers her novel with, but the first POV/third POV switch is still a no. I mean, I supposed it could make sense given the double timeline, but it’s a trend that needs to be salted and burned. On principle.
I saw other people complaining about the apparent slowness of the book, something I don’t really agree with. The Downstairs Neighbours has good pacing overall, neither too slow nor too fast—maybe it’s not that genre-fitting, yes, but it still makes for an enjoyable read.
Grammar-wise, The Downstairs Neighbour is nicely written. Good syntax and a solid structure complete the package, so let me high-five the editors who worked on this book. 😀
The subplot that reads weaker is Emma’s. While I realize that not everyone in the building can have a life-changing secret—having three families hiding something big is too much of a stretch—she comes off as a well-meaning, nosey woman. Her characterization doesn’t help either: vintage plus colored hair plus teen pregnancy? She would have benefited from less stereotyping and a little more depth.
Maybe the naivety of some characters—Emma, Freya, Kate, Chris—is the only real flaw of this story.
4 stars on GR.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Helen Cooper is from Derby, England, and now lives in Leicester. She has a MA in Creative Writing and a background in teaching English and Academic Writing. Her creative writing has been published in Mslexia and Writers’ Forum; she was shortlisted in the Bath Short Story Prize in 2014, and came third in the Leicester Writes Short Story Prize in 2018. The Downstairs Neighbour is her first novel.
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