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The Girl on the Stairs: A Masterful Psychological Thriller [Paperback]

Louise Welsh
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 5.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

28 Mar 2013
Jane and Petra have been together for six years and after deciding to have a child, they move to Petra's hometown, Berlin. But things do not quite go according to plan. Jane, at six months pregnant, finds herself increasingly isolated and preoccupied with the monuments and reminders of the Holocaust which echo around the city - imagining the horrors that happened in the spaces around her. She becomes uneasy in the apartment and conceives a dread of the derelict backhouse across the courtyard. She also begins to suspect their neighbour, Alban Mann, of sexually assaulting his daughter, and places a phone call to the police which holds more significance than she can ever have known . . .

Frequently Bought Together

The Girl on the Stairs: A Masterful Psychological Thriller + Naming the Bones + The Cutting Room
Price For All Three: 19.57

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  • Naming the Bones 7.99
  • The Cutting Room 5.99

Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray (28 Mar 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848546505
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848546509
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Before becoming a full-time writer Louise Welsh ran a second hand bookshop. She has been the recipient of several awards including the John Creasey Memorial Dagger, the Saltire first book award and in 2007 was included in Waterstones list of twenty-five authors for the future. She has also written for radio and stage and in 2009 produced a libretto for Scottish Opera's 5:15 series. She lives in Glasgow. You can learn more about Louise at

Product Description


Louise Welsh's taut new novel at times feels like a potent cross between The Yellow Wallpaper and Rear Window . . . Welsh expertly conveys the escalation of Jane's suspicions to something approaching obsession (Observer)

'An impressive psychological chiller' (Sunday Telegraph)

'Sharply rendered . . . The reader's anxiety is heightened by a myriad of small tensions . . . Welsh keeps the reader turning to pursue the multiple stories threading through the pages . . . The writing of crime fiction is, after all, a sort of conjuring trick played on the reader, a welcome deception. Welsh has developed flashing fingers with cards, rabbits and hats' (Independent)

Builds up atmosphere admirably (Sunday Times)

Brilliantly atmospheric, the tension builds until you are chilled to the core (Good Housekeeping)

A taut narrative that plays with our sense of what's real. Brilliant (Red)

'A stylish and violent Berlin-set thriller' (Guardian)

'Powerful, impressive and as black as sin' (The Spectator)

'An outstanding work of psychological suspense that will thrill Welsh's existing fans and earn her many more' (Daily Record)

'A portrait of a city haunted by its past, with nods to Don't Look Now and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper, it's a profoundly creepy read' (Guardian Books of the Year 2012)

'The Girl on the Stairs feels like a ghost story. Taking place in a haunted city, the book's knowing evocation of Don't Look Now, Du Maurier's Venice-set story, is sharpened by the fact that this mother is not grieving the loss of a child but anticipating a birth. Yet what Welsh knows, and brings to a bloody conclusion, is that no supernatural manifestation of our darkest hours is any match for what real human beings can do to each other' (Guardian)

Welsh skilfully exposes Jane's growing obsession in a tale that becomes more compelling with every shocking twist (Psychologies)

A highly effective mystery, told by the kind of unreliable narrator able to rival the very best at keeping you guessing (Scotsman)

'We've come to expect two things from Welsh: a brilliant sense of location and knuckle-whitening suspense . . . Superbly entertaining' (Saga)

'Both chilling and disturbing insights into the female psyche' (Scotsman)

'Wonderfully atmospheric' (List)

A masterclass in sustained tension and hold-your-breath suspense (Bookseller)

'Edgy, tense and a real page-turner' (Woman)

'A fast-paced read...this is definately a must read for fans of mystery or psychology' (Ialwaysbelievedinfutures.blogspot)

'This is a fantastic, dark, edgy and edgy of your seat thriller which will not disappoint fans of Louise Welsh but will also be perfect for fans of Rosamund Lupton and Julia Crouch. Be prepared to loose sleep' (

'The uncertainties and ambiguities kept me guessing to the end . . . The Girl on the Stairs is a dark, psychological thriller, full of atmosphere and claustrophobic tension. I really enjoyed it' (

'A clever Rear Window type thriller . . . You won't be able to put this book down until the very end when there is a surprising twist. I was left with an uncomfortable feeling at the end and am still thinking about this book days after I finished it' (

'A dark haunting novel. The story builds and as the tension incrases I enjoyed it more and more, and felt it got better and better until I was gripped . . . It's a fairly short novel, written in spare prose with evocative descriptive passages and effective dialogue that always adds to the plot progression' (

'The Girl on the Stairs is a gritty, psychological thriller with plenty of suspense, tension and mystery. The twists and turns will have you believing Jane one minute and thinking she's mad the next. A definite page-turner and an excellent read' (

Skilfully paced and heavily atmospheric' (Sunday Telegraph)

Utterly absorbing (Evening Herald (Dublin))

Book Description

A fantastically atmospheric, sexually charged novel by the acclaimed author of The Cutting Room.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect story for Halloween 22 Oct 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The perfect book to read in late October, with dull, dark misty nights drawing in and that sense of impending Halloween doom. I've heard this described as a very 'dark' book, but what I found surprising, looking back, was how gradually the 'darkness' descended. Small increments of 'darkness' so that nothing seems, in isolation, too shocking, until, by the end, when you understand the astonishing truth, you also realise how dreaful a situation has been cunningly exposed. At times, whilst I was reading, it felt a little 'slow', which is why I didn't give it five stars, but in some ways, that was part of the elegance of the downwardly spiralling storyline. Not quite 'The Cutting Room', but Louise Welsh's next best book, in my opinion.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Literate page-turner 20 Sep 2012
This is a psychological thriller is of the short, considered kind you don't really see much anymore. In a marketplace where publishers insist that even the simplest story is eked out to 400 pages, it's refreshing to encounter a novel confident enough in itself to calm down and deliver its tale in an efficient, effective way.

Jane Logan has moved to Berlin with her partner Petra. She's also pregnant with their first child. When Petra is called away for work, Jane finds herself alone in their new apartment, and alone in an unfamiliar city. She meets Anna, the young daughter of her neighbour, polite doctor Alban Mann. Anna seems to have a different bruise each time Jane sees her, and she becomes convinced the girl is being abused by her father.

Jane's concern for Anna grows alongside her increasing concern for her unborn child (a relationship that Welsh takes time to explore movingly). She vows to help Anna, but is surrounded by strangers and in a place she does not yet understand. As Jane's frustration and paranoia grow, we become concerned not only for her, but for those around her, as it becomes clear she is in danger of doing more harm than good.

Welsh builds tension expertly, and Jane's increasing obsession is believably-paced and impressively free of clichés. This is a well-written and powerful page-turner.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Suspicion or Paranoia? 8 Aug 2013
By Kate Hopkins TOP 500 REVIEWER
Louise Welsh's chilling fifth novel is set in Berlin. Jane, a Scottish bookseller, has moved from London with her German partner Petra to begin a new life in Germany's capital. The pair have decided to have a child - Jane has become pregnant through artificial insemination and plans to be the baby's main carer, while Petra, a banker, will be the main breadwinner. Bored by her lack of work, feeling trapped in a city where she barely speaks the language and ambivalent about becoming a mother, Jane develops an obsession with Anna, the teenage girl who lives downstairs, and with Anna's taciturn if charming father Dr Alban Mann. After hearing the father and daughter arguing and seeing a bruise on Anna's face, Jane becomes convinced that Alban Mann is abusing his daughter, and a chance remark by the old lady in the flat downstairs (who has senile dementia) convinces her that Mann murdered Anna's mother, who mysteriously disappeared years before. Jane becomes increasingly determined to redeem and save Anna and punish Mann, and when Petra goes away for a week, her suspicions reach a peak of intensity. But there seems to be very little evidence against Mann - could Jane in fact be imagining the whole thing? And what really happened to Greta, Alban Mann's wife? Welsh keeps us guessing whether Mann's crimes are Jane's paranoid fantasy or whether he really is guilty, as the story hastens to a terrifying climax.

This is the first Louise Welsh book I've read. She certainly can write a pageturner - I was up late two nights with this book. And her descriptions of Berlin (part run-down city steeped in history, part modern snazzy metropolis) are brilliant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'The Girl on the Stairs' 31 Dec 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Typically brilliant: very tense, very spooky -- real edge-of-the-chair stuff, and the kind of thing I've come to rely on with the quirky Louise Welsh. Superb writer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This thriller ratchets up the tension in a relatively quiet and subtle way. There are no gunshots, no trail of dead bodies and no race-against-the-clock chases. This novel thrives on the almost-said, the hinted-at and the careful creation of atmosphere, making it easy to get lost in the world that Louise Welsh has created and to wonder what is really going on.

This is a classic psychological thriller with Jane, our focus character, isolated physically, culturally and socially. For British Jane, living in Berlin with her partner Petra is isolating as her German isn't strong and her late stage pregnancy limits her physically. Alone during the day and alone with her wakefulness at night, she sees and hears things that no-one else does. The book's big question is whether Jane has woven a fantasy around her neighbours, or whether she is in fact the only one to realise the violence going on next door.

Using third person narrative, we see Jane's experience close-up but are also uncertain of exactly what is happening and I'm sure many readers would, like me, vacillate between thinking Jane was losing it slightly, and wondering why no-one believed her. To my mind at least, there is no point as you go through the story at which it is definitively clear what the author wants you to believe. Clearly, Louise Welsh has effectively set up and welcomed us into a shadowy, threatening version of Berlin.

I was pleased to see a lesbian main character, but perhaps a little disappointed to see them inhabiting fairly traditional roles with Jane destined to be a housewife and full time mother and Petra away on business and sometimes taking Jane for granted.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent writing, poor and slow storyline.
This is the first book I have read from Louise Welsh and unsure if I will read any more of her work due to the slow past of the storyline, and a poor one at that. Read more
Published 2 months ago by JG
4.0 out of 5 stars A book, story set in Berlin
Heard about this on a radio programme in Glasgow. Was of interest because I had just been to Berlin. Would recommend. Scene IS SET IN bERLIN.
Published 4 months ago by george
1.0 out of 5 stars Bob Turner
I have read a few of Louis welsh,s novel s.I was however very disappointed in this one.It started off promising,but fizzled out as the storyline progressed. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Robert Turner
1.0 out of 5 stars just plain daft
as said in previous reviews characters were either weird or annoying especially jane.start of the book was good but by the end it had decended into farce and i wasn't even sure i... Read more
Published 8 months ago by ps44
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth buying
It was a gripping read from the start, a real page turner. It is the first book I have read by this author and would look at others by her.
Published 8 months ago by Hazel Howell-Smith
1.0 out of 5 stars Not masterful at all
I read this book on recommendation from a couple of Book Club friends. I bought it for my Kindle and it was reasonably priced and immediately delivered. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Jackie of Hexham
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting and atmospheric
I enjoyed reading this book, with its haunting descriptions of Berlin and the niggling sense of something untoward going on. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Malfi
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Made great reading couldn't put it down , good summer time read especially if you want something that had lots of drama
Published 10 months ago by Louise J. Maggs
2.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately, not very interesting.
I kept reading right to the end in the hope that it would get more interesting - unfortunately it didn't.
Published 10 months ago by ELIZABETH HUMPHRYS
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing!
Disappointing - it not up to her usual standard.
I did not find the story convincing nor her characters very sympathetic!
Published 10 months ago by Sonia Scott
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