Elements that are in play are somewhat visible to savvy thriller readers, and the novel echoes a classic movie from the 1960s. Proving that Barclay is a master of manipulation, he pulls a genuinely unexpected twist that throws everything revealed up to that point entirely out the window. This thriller then kicks into high gear as it becomes a race for answers and justice. The author has cast this novel with a group of realistic characters that add to the festivities showcasing a grand design. Predictable becomes unpredictable in this compelling book that echoes the best of Harlan Coben.
Every twist is well prepared, and the primary red herring works well. (I was sure I had things figured out halfway through. Not even close.) The story unfolds at a leisurely pace until the natural momentum starts to accelerate events, after which the reveals come one after another, each building on what came before ... The tying off of all the threads at the end is well done, yet not so neat as to seem contrived. Barclay is expert at keeping his chess pieces in motion throughout so readers can accept the premise of an action with no extraordinary suspensions of disbelief. Thriller fans will find everything they look for and then some ... The end result is a story that picks up speed as it careens toward an ending that Barclay nails.
Barclay imbues his propulsive narrative with a simmering, low menace, and readers won’t help but feel for poor Paul as he falls down the rabbit hole. Is he actually going crazy, or is something else going on? It would be hard to say much more without spoiling the denouement, but I will say that Barclay takes a risk in the last act that lesser authors may not have been able to pull off. This one is a lot of fun, and you’ll want to keep an eye out for the unlikely hero that rises to the occasion in the finale.
Two murders, one witness, a brutal assault, and a possessed vintage typewriter. Barclay (No Time for Goodbye) expertly weaves these details into a tantalizing psychological thriller ... At what point does a person know for sure they've lost their mind? ... Prepare 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.
Author Barclay leaves plenty of little trails of breadcrumbs and red herrings for the reader to snack on while digesting the clues he has masterfully planted along the way. The first genuine must-read of the summer, A Noise Downstairs is a terrific edge-of-your-seat Hitckcockian psychological thriller, that lives up to all the hype garnered.
A Noise Downstairs is a satisfying and clever novel. The large cast and the story’s many moving parts—an unsettling sociopath prankster, Paul’s deteriorating mental health, a potential child custody fight with Paul’s ex-wife—perfectly set the reader up for the final climactic twist. The novel’s only downside, and it’s not much, is the sluggish beginning to the final act where everything is explained—what happened and why—which the reader has already guessed, but it’s this same exposition that ultimately sets up Barclay’s gratifying final surprise.
Paul’s theory that the typewriter might be haunted has his wife and his therapist concerned that he might actually be losing his mind. But is there a more sinister answer? Barclay carefully conceals hidden motives and secret lives until the startling conclusion. Harlan Coben fans will find much to like.