Wednesday 3 February 2021

BLOG TOUR: The Downstairs Neighbour - Helen Cooper

In a converted Georgian townhouse in south west London, three families live under one roof.

The large flat that takes up the top two floors is home to the Harlow family: happily married Paul and Steph, and their bubbly teenage daughter Freya. The smaller first floor flat is rented by Emma, who spends most of her time alone, listening to people coming in and out of the building. And the basement flat belongs to Chris, a local driving instructor, who prefers to keep his personal life private from the neighbours.

But their lives are all upended when Freya vanishes. As the police become involved and a frantic Paul and Steph desperately search for answers, they begin to realise that the truth behind their daughter's disappearance may lie closer to home than they were expecting.

When everyone has something to hide, can you ever really know those closest to you? Or will some secrets be taken to the grave?

What did I think?

The Downstairs Neighbour is a very addictive and captivating debut from Helen Cooper, filled with characters who all have something to hide.  Nobody is who they appear to be and I felt like a bit of a nosy neighbour myself when I was reading, peeking through my curtains and making assumptions about each and every one of them.

With chapters told from various characters' viewpoints, Helen Cooper has created a right page-turner.  Interspersed between the chapters following Freya's disappearance, there are heart-rending chapters from 25 years earlier told from the perspective of a girl called Kate.   I was as equally intrigued by the past storyline as I was by the present and although you know it has to link to one of the characters somehow, you need to scratch well below the surface to discover all of the well-buried secrets.

Very well written with heaps of suspense, The Downstairs Neighbour is a definite page turner.  As if Freya's disappearance wasn't enough of a hook, I was completely enthralled by the characters' stories and couldn't read fast enough to discover all of their secrets.  The tension mounted to an almost unbearable level as I raced towards the breathtaking conclusion and I finally released the breath that I didn't realise I had been holding.

Reading The Downstairs Neighbour really made me think about how little we know our neighbours these days.  Neighbours don't pop round to borrow a cup of sugar anymore and we barely even know our neighbours' names, let alone know anything about them.  It's quite a scary thought to think that we could know as little about the person with whom we are living.  

With a twisty fast-paced plot and filled to the brim with secrets, The Downstairs Neighbour is a superb debut novel that left me completely breathless.  An extremely enjoyable and highly recommended read.

I received an ARC from the publisher to read and review for the blog tour; all opinions are my own.

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