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A Noise Downstairs - Linwood Barclay

I have read several books by Linwood Barclay in the past and thoroughly enjoyed them. This one, not so much. It was all I could do to stop myself (and I was not successful) from penciling notes in the margins and highlighting glaring errors in the text. I have to ask Linwood what were you thinking? This is not the kind of work you usually produce for us to enjoy. It is so glaringly "off" that it made me wonder if it was actually written by a ghost writer.

I don't even know where to begin with my comments but here goes.

1) The characters are flat, emotionless, have no depth to them whatsoever and left me thinking "who cares?" at the end.

2) The dialogue was flat. I had to use the same description twice but honestly I don't know what else to call it. It was as emotionless as the characters and I suppose that makes sense since he could have done so much in the dialogue to give us depth in his characters.

3) It had a couple of glaring mistakes. One specifically in which our protagonist has just returned home from his shrink appointment and can't find his keys. We learn a little later that he's lost them at the shrink's, down her couch. So tell me LB, how did he get home from the appointment, when his keys were down her couch?

4) There are POV - Point of View - changes within scenes - Wow that's a rookie mistake. If this book was written from an omniscient point of view (narrator speaking) then this wouldn't be an issue, but this story is very clearly written in close third (meaning that we are linked into the thoughts and sights of a particular character). This changes from chapter to chapter as we move from the protagonist, to his wife, to his shrink and that's all okay - but not from one to the other in the same scene with nothing to let us know we're coming at it from someone else's point of view. It's jarring. It's frustrating and it's wrong. In one scene in particular we are in Paul's point of view and then he goes downstairs and rather than follow him down, we stay with his wife, Charlotte - what!!!???? Slap on the wrists LB for that one.

5) Predictable outcome - Okay, admittedly I had a couple of prospective culprits in mind so the reveal was not entirely obvious, but so much of what was going on was, ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE BOOK. And because I don't want to spoil it for you if you still want to read it after reading this...I can't really say what was obvious. I like a twist and a turn and this had one towards the end, when we finally get all the details but it didn't exactly leave me in awe saying "I never saw that coming."

In short, for me the entire book was emotionless, predictable and very, very flawed. Having said that, it's a good learning "read" for anyone who wants to know what NOT to do, when writing a domestic thriller.

I believe this is a flub, a one-off and not a typical LB work. As I said, I've read other books by him and thoroughly enjoyed them. In fact I picked up an autographed copy of Elevator Pitch from my local Goodwill story a couple of days ago and I'm anxious to read it.


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