Monday, 15 October 2018

Audiobook Review (holiday reads #6): A NOISE DOWNSTAIRS by Linwood Barclay

Author: Linwood Barclay
Narrator: Jared Zeus
Read: September 2018
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟

Book Description:

College professor Paul Davis is a normal guy with a normal life. 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 the typewriter is somehow connected to the murderer he discovered nearly a year ago. The killer had made his victims type apologies to him before ending their lives. Has another sick twist of fate entwined his life with the killer—could this be the same machine? Increasingly tormented but determined to discover the truth and confront his nightmare, Paul begins investigating 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. . . .

My musings:

A haunted typewriter that starts writing sinister messages in the middle of the night should make the perfect premise for a spooky read – right? That’s what I thought when I came across the premise of A Noise Downstairs – especially since I remember playing with my grandfather’s old typewriter, which made exactly the same chit-chit-chit-ding sound as the one featuring in the story. I had goosebumps in anticipation of reading this story!

Perhaps it was due to my inflated expectations that I didn’t find the story anywhere near as spine-tingling and creepy as I had hoped, even though it started off very promising. Paul Davis, a college professor and average guy-next-door type, narrowly escapes being murdered himself when he stumbles across one of his colleagues who is in the process of burying the bodies of two women. Suffering a severe head injury after a blow to the head with a shovel, it is no wonder that Paul has a hard time recovering from the trauma. Not only must he bear the psychological scars, but his memory has never been the same since. When he begins hearing strange typing sounds in the night coming from the old typewriter his wife bought him to cheer him up, he initially thinks it’s all in his head. Until someone suggests that he put a piece of paper in the machine to see what the typewriter has to tell him ...

If you think this sounds creepy – yes, it was, to a point. Unfortunately the typewriter mystery is resolved about ¾ into the book, after which I felt the story lagging for me. Despite some clever twists at the end, I could see the main one coming from a long way off, which also diluted the scare factor for me. I am trying not to give anything away, so will have to leave it at that. However, I admit that I was a lot more intrigued by one of the supporting characters, Gavin, a sociopath who attends the same psychologist that is treating Paul. Oh boy, that man is seriously disturbed and a lot more interesting than Paul himself – I could read a book based on his character alone, and it would probably make for a significantly creepier read.

Seeing the high ratings this book received on Goodreads, it may have been a case of “it’s-not-you-it’s-me” scenario. No matter how desperately I wanted to be chilled and thrilled, it just didn’t happen for me. Seeing how I have one of these rusty old typewriters sitting in my office, I may change my tune if it suddenly starts sending me sinister messages in the dead of the night. Which may make me change my mind. Until then, only three stars from me, for an ok read that made for easy listening on a long train journey. 

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