Professor’s life is changed in ‘A Noise Downstairs’

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Paul Davis is driving home when he sees his mentor and colleague Kenneth Hoffman driving erratically. He follows and soon learns that Hoffman has two dead bodies in his trunk. When Davis confronts him, Hoffman whacks him in the head with a shovel. The police show up just in time to stop another murder.

Over eight months later, Davis still has issues with his memories and suffers from PTSD.  Hoffman receives a prison sentence and shows no signs of remorse. How well do you truly know someone? Davis’ wife is forgiving but starts to show concern that he’s not healing as well as hoped. She finds an old typewriter and decides to buy it to help cheer up her husband. He has always wanted one and instantly takes to using it regularly to write his diary and help him come to terms with what happened.

The madness starts subtly at first when he begins to hear the typewriter being used in the middle of the night. He asks his wife, but she doesn’t hear it. There’s no sign of anyone breaking into the house. Is his imagination working overtime? Or has his mind snapped?

Elements that are in play are somewhat visible to savvy thriller readers, and the novel echoes a classic movie from the 1960s. Proving that author Linwood 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. (AP)