A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay

Book Description:

Published; July 24, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The New York Times bestselling author of No Time for Goodbyereturns with a haunting psychological thriller that blends the twists and turns of Gillian Flynn with the driving suspense of Harlan Coben, in which a man is troubled by odd sounds for which there is no rational explanation.

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. . .

Review –

This one is a must for your TBR if you are looking for a fast-paced story that is easily read in any setting and impossible to put down. If you’re new to this author,(as I am)then know his writing style is very similar to Harlan Coben’s, meaning there are usually many plot lines that start out removed from each other but are slowly brought together toward the end for the big reveal.

While it was wholly compulsive and difficult to put down, A Noise Downstairs doesn’t become an action driven plot for the first thirty to forty percent of the novel; we take our time in a slow burning suspense while becoming acquainted with the characters, which is a style of writing I’m quite partial to. Ok, except for that first section, which perfectly hooked my attention. You get a lot of the set up from the synopsis, but initially we find our main narrator Paul caught in an unexpected exchange with co-worker Kenneth. Unfortunately, Paul has decided to follow Ken to inform him that he has a tail light out, things escalate, and Ken attempts to murder Paul. We are then thrust forward eight months after the incident, where Ken is in prison, Paul is spending time recovering with the help of his therapist Anna and his second wife Charlotte, and things are tense. Paul thinks it will be cathartic to write about his experiences in hopes of working through his PTSD, so Charlotte surprises him with an old Underwood typewriter she found at a yard sale. The thing is, Paul starts hearing the typewriter in the middle of the night, and what unfolds is a tale of “Is he delusional or is someone out to get him?” in the most suspenseful format.

The plot is told mostly through three points of view: Paul’s, Anna’s (the psychiatrist), and Charlotte’s (Paul’s current wife). Also sprinkled throughout the story we learn about Paul’s ex-wife, her new husband, Paul’s son, Anna’s father, and Kenneth and his family. Everything pretty much branches off from these particular head points, and there are side plots galore. Maybe a few people will find it unnecessarily confusing, but I thought it was tastefully done and added to the intrigue. Which side plots would turn out to be connected to the main? Which were red herrings? Which were unrelated but still vital to the story’s characterization? This was all present and kept me, a seasoned mystery fanatic, busy, preoccupied, and flustered in the best way possible.

I thought I had it all figured out, and I was both right and wrong. I LOVE IT WHEN THIS HAPPENS! Let me explain (minus the spoilers). If you are an expert detective while reading novels of suspense, or if you’ve even simply read a few, you’ll probably think you know where this is going. And you’d be right, EXCEPT… Here’s the thing, I had the who, the why, and some of the how figured out. There are only so many options to what’s going on with the dang typewriter, so naturally many readers will come to that conclusion on their own. What I loved was that the author gives us all this, and it’s a red herring in and of itself.  I won’t tell you exactly when this happens, because I don’t want you to be expecting it, but it’s not at the very end. And then come the waves of reveals my friends… WAVES! How exciting is it to keep receiving twists, both big and small, time after time until the last page is turned? The first twist that I hadn’t personally figured out knocked me completely off balance when it happened. It’s been awhile I’ve read a book where the author chose to use this particular plot element and it was beautifully done.

Fantastic read!

Midnight Son by James Dommek Jr.

Book Description:

Published: October 31, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

James Dommek, Jr., an Alaska Native writer and musician, sheds new light on a real-life mystery that pits Native American folklore against the US justice system. In the vast Alaskan Arctic, legend has it there once lived a mythic tribe—Iñukuns—that only existed in rumors and whispers. This changed forever when an actor-turned-fugitive, Teddy Kyle Smith, had an encounter that brought Iñukuns from myth to reality. Smith was an aspiring actor with a promising career until it all came quickly crashing down with a gunshot, a manhunt, bloodshed, and other frightful events.

The story of Smith’s tragic downfall has long haunted James Dommek, Jr., the great-grandson of the last of the Iñupiaq story-tellers. Midnight Son is his journey in discovering who Teddy Kyle Smith was, what he did, and what he really saw. Along the way, listeners will experience the soul of the real Alaska as narrator Dommek, Jr. brings this multilayered and sprawling tale to life.

Review –

Teddy Kyle Smith, a retired Marine, started appearing in movies as Alaska’s fledgling film industry was just taking off. But, right after his mother’s mysterious death in Kiana, Smith became the subject of a manhunt.

Smith fled into the wilderness, then shot two hunters at a remote cabin. What he said later brought to life local legends. It also initiated a legal dispute that, at its heart, questions the idea of a trial by one’s peers, if one’s peers do not understand or believe those stories, passed down through generations.

Midnight Son, which quickly become a best-seller for the audiobook service Audible, is narrated by Alaskan writer and musician James Dommek Jr.

Dommek, the great-grandson of Iñupiaq storytellers, says Teddy Smith’s story is really several stories woven together.

I thought this book would be a true crime thriller, but it is surprisingly more. I learned about Alaskan folklore, culture, and story telling in a non-traditional voice. The crime parts seemed secondary to the development of the narrator and that became of greater interest. I wouldn’t recommend to just anybody but it had my attention the whole time. It also gave a much better view of what it’s like to live in the bush than all the television  shows out there glamorizing living off the grid.

Interesting read.