Paul’s story almost ended abruptly. A professor of literature, he was nearly killed by a colleague when Paul happened upon the mathematics professor trying to dispose of two very bloody, very dead bodies. A heavy blow to the head and eight months later, Paul is trying to get his life back on track. While he has the occasional moment of forgetfulness or headache, he thinks he’s well on his way to getting back to work, and attempting to make peace with what happened to him. In a final effort to overcome the nightmares and confront the trauma, Paul decided to confront Kenneth Hoffman, the man who almost ended his life.
While contemplating how best to approach the situation and meet with Kenneth, Paul’s wife gifts him a typewriter for inspiration. Despite being the same model of typewriter Kenneth had used in his crimes, Paul is excited to begin. However, he soon starts to have strange experiences which seem to be linked to the typewriter, Kenneth, and the murdered women Paul glimpsed. As he struggles to draw the line between realism, the supernatural, and possible mental illness, Paul must uncover the truth while maintaining a firm grasp of his sanity.
Entering Paul’s world is like entering a dream – it’s nearly impossible to tell what is real, or imagined. Is the typewriter displaying supernatural properties, or has it all got something to do with those small moments that Paul can’t remember?
Barclay has a little something of everything to offer; mystery, combined with the supernatural, and a love triangle and personal drama – A Noise Downstairs is so much more than just a whodunit. Though at times somewhat slow, this remains a gripping and unusual story. Through the use of a few clever and downright shocking twists, this story explores family, relationships, motivations for heinous acts, and the powers that link them all together. Barclay has presented a rather good answer for why people do what they do.
A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay is published by Orion Books, and is available in South Africa from Jonathan Ball Publishers.