on 5 December 2013
I was lucky enough to obtain a proof copy of The Killer Next Door. Having relished Marwood's debut thriller The Wicked Girls, I had high hopes for The Killer Next Door. I was not disappointed. The strength in Marwood's writing lies in her understanding of human nature and her wonderful ability to bring a character springing to life off the page with all their wonders, failings and sometimes revolting glory.
Set in present day London in a grimy, crumbling large Victorian bedsit. This book goes behind the grubby facade and unravels what is really going on at number 23. The house holds many secrets, some horrifying some surprisingly heartwarming. I particularly loved young Cher the scouse teenager and Vesta the lady in her late sixties who has been resident at number 23 far longer than she should have been but becomes the one person they can all turn to.
Roy Preece the repulsive landlord is a creation of sheer genius, I reveled in every last revolting detail, you will both laugh and squirm as Marwood graphically describes this dreadful man.
As with the Wicked Girls the story never tires, the pace never lets up and you are never sure of the reveal until the very last page and there is a fine meshing of story lines concluding in an ending that is both satisfying and surprising.
If you are a fan of Ruth Rendell's alter ego Barbara Vine, you will love this book. I guarantee once you have read The Killer Next Door you will never look at bedsit suburbia in the same light. What lurks behind the door of number 23.....well you have to buy this book to find out. A cracker of a thriller five stars.
This novel begins with one of the residents of a boarding house being interviewed about a crime which has taken place there; so the fact that there is, literally, a killer next door, is not a plot spoiler. However, this is much more than a thriller or a crime novel - it is a slice of London life and a story of the anonymity of the city. Having revealed that one of the bedsits of the Victorian house in Beulah Grove have contained a murderer, the story slips back in time to reveal the inhabitants and what happened to bring us to this point.
There is sitting tenant, elderly Vesta Collins, music teacher Gerard Bright, part-time worker Thomas Dunbar, Cher, a teenage runaway from the care system, asylum seeker Hossein Zanjani and the new addition to the house, Collette. Collette is on the run from some very unfriendly people, clutching a bag of stolen money and looking over her shoulder as she attempts to remain anonymous. However, the revolting landlord, Roy Preece, knows enough not to ask questions and is only interested in receiving his deposit in cash. All his residents are hiding secrets or have slipped far enough in life that his threadbare rooms, devoid of creature comforts, are acceptable to them.
This is an unusual, gripping and, strangely moving read about a group of people attempting to come to terms with lives that have led them to this lonely and, somewhat depressing, place. Full of dark comedy as the crimes unfold and the residents attempt to cope with their own personal problems (there is one image concerning the landlord that will take a long while to fade!) , this book encompasses themes of loneliness, alienation, a good old fashioned murder, gangsters and what makes a family. Absolutely brilliant and highly recommended. I received a copy of this book from the publishers, via NetGalley, for review.
on 4 November 2014
I love crime & thriller novels, but this made a real change from the normal run of the mill thrillers. It was well written with great characters and a real page turner from the first to the last page. I can definitely recommend this novel, and will be reading more from this Author.
on 31 July 2014
I mean this in the best way - this book creeps me out. Alex Marwood has triumphed again, a masterful suspense novel. If you loved, The Wicked Girls, you will certainly love this one. The Killer Next Door also somehow manages to mix in a wicked (pun intended) sense of humor, without sinking into a trite, lightweight approach. The books starts with the end, you start off knowing some basic facts about what plays out. Or do you? You're kept guessing until the very end. Along the way, you meet truly engaging characters and spin through intersecting plot lines that create the type of story that you simply cannot put down until you get to the end. And at the end, you just say, "Wow!" In reaction to a few other reviews, I do feel compelled to add, this is a work of fiction. The beauty of a novel is the creativity that a talented author brings to situations that are based in real life. And perhaps people shouldn't take things so literally - cripes, just sit back and enjoy the ride, it's a terrific, suspenseful book!
I enjoy a good crime thriller. I'm not keen on gratuitous description of violent acts. That said, The Killer Next Door is not for those of faint heart; there are some stomach churning moments. Alex Marwood creates a real sense of revulsion and fear as events unfold at a London bedsit. Each room has a story. None are particularly happy and the great strength of the book lies with each of the characters whose lives converge and transgress.
Totally nailed are the misfits and dispossessed, regardless of age and gender. There's a whole slice of Social Service and bedsit land life here. Who really knows what goes on behind closed doors? I was, I turn, reviled and compelled by both events and descriptions. It's a thin line for an author wanting to explore the darker psyches. How to depict stark reality, maintain character and plot credibility and keep the reader engaged? I have a strong stomach for detail and this took me to the edge. A multi layered plot, with a serial killer in the midst, a pervy landlord, others both hunted and haunted by the past.
This book explores some truly dark themes, the underbelly of life in the back streets by those with something to hide. Alluding to real life crime and sensationalist stories that feature daily in the tabloid press, Alex Marwood's skill with words takes the tale into a different dimension. There are elements of farce in some scenes which lighten the mood without taking it into the absurd. Clever and skilful, this story had an almost tangible grip. I raced to the end with a dual sense of relief and disappointment. Superb storytelling that sets the pulse racing.
Thanks to Little, Brown Group UK for a review copy via Netgalley.
Thank you to the author and publisher for the much anticipated review copy.
No. 23 has a secret. In this gloomy, bedsit-riddled South London wreck, lorded over by a lecherous landlord, a horrifying collection quietly waits to be discovered. Yet all six residents have something to hide.
Impressive. Yes ok, this is crime fiction. There is a mystery and things to discover here, but for me this was mostly a character driven novel - and a rather addictive one at that.
Within the walls of number 23, an eclectic cast of characters hang their hats - all hiding out from the world for one reason or another and all incredibly well drawn, I was immediately fascinated by every one of them.
From the very beginning Alex Marwood hooks you. Cher, teenage runaway, is interviewed at the police station, giving her statement about a recent gruesome discovery - then we are thrown back in time to start meeting the people involved...the residents of No 23. Knowing that doom is approaching for at least one, this is a book you may shout at. "No". "Don't do that". "RUN RUN!"...and yet you are never entirely sure whether you are directing your advice at the right people..clever. Love it.
Putting that side of it away for a moment - the more frightening part if you like - you can also look at this story as a soundbite from life. Cher, teenager, thief, but also someone you would want on your side. Collette, hiding from danger not realising that she faces far worse in her chosen sanctuary, Vesta, pensioner, is mother and confidante to all. Then you have a handome asylum seeker Hossein, the lonely Thomas and the musically minded Gerard, all watched over by the repugnant landlord Preece. Different views, different lives, all tied together by their mutual living space, you could easily read this as a cautionary tale of the ups and downs of life...and somewhere in that marvellous mix a killer lurks...hiding in plain sight.
From start to finish this is a terrific page turner, a look at the dark heart that lurks in us all and a compelling, often emotional, always refreshing tale of humanity.
Happy Reading Folks!
on 27 February 2015
Almost like a modern, very black, Ealing comedy. I especially liked the description of the numerous main characters, albeit that one or two were barely sketched. I think that some more reasoning behind the behaviour of the main perpetrator would not have gone amiss. As an Ealing comedy, the extreme reaction to the accidental death can be forgiven – but it did seem a little odd. I thought that one or two portions of the book were laboured without any real impact on the storyline, for example the “chase” on the underground. However I could see at the end why some other portions I had thought were over-egged did have some meaning e.g. the voyeurism. The scene on the rooftop was very hard to visualise. Overall though, a good read.
on 9 January 2014
Having loved The Wicked Girls, I was looking forward to reading this and wasn't disappointed. This brilliant book is a challenge for faint hearts - the richness of detail about the squishier aspects of murder and death, to say nothing of drains and sewage, is unsparing and relentlessly vivid, showing solid research behind skilful and exciting, and at times funny, narrative. The plot (or perhaps more accurately suite of interwoven plots) is tense and intense, claustrophobically trapped inside a London house divided up into flats/rooms in a heat wave, each tenant haunted by dark, life-threatening secrets and fears, and so much seems to be revealed right from the start, that you can't believe there can be any twists to come, but there are, and they keep coming! Despite the gruesome descriptions this is a warm-hearted book, with characters you can believe in and warm to, in particular the 'three ages of women' trio of Colette, Cher and the effective 'house mother' Vesta and also asylum seeker Hossein. The sadness of murder victims' ends is not skimmed over or neglected either, balancing out the horror of killing and the physical challenge of dealing with human bodies. I read with real dread, worried about what was going to happen to these people I'd got to know, desperate to find out if those already dead would be avenged or at least acknowledged by the world, unable to stop reading until the satisfying end. Another must-read from Alex Marwood.
on 26 May 2015
5 Stars from me!
This is the second book by Alex Marwood that I’ve read and much like The Wicked Girls – I absolutely loved it!
I can well see this being made into a TV series (it put me in mind of What Remains) or film as it was so easy to visualise while reading it. More of a black comedy than a truly scary book – think along the lines of Shallow Grave and you won’t go far wrong. The Killer Next Door focuses on the mundanity of life, day-to-day chores and inconveniences with lovely little snippets of human behaviour playing out among the warped world around us – all wrapped up in a subplot of macabre humour.
I felt all the characters were cleverly devised and interacted well with each other. The additional story-line given to Collette was a nice touch even though the story could have carried itself quite nicely without it.
Very, very different the The Wicked Girls but just as good – highly recommended.
I’m loving Alex Marwood right now and hope she is busy writing more :)
on 18 April 2014
A grisly secret hides behind the doors of 23 Beulah Grove, a run down house of present day London bedsits in which a number of tenants have their own secrets to hide from the world unaware that their place of safety is far less safe than they could possibly imagine.
Alex Marwood creates diverse, flawed characters managing to bring their humanity to the fore, no mean feat as you discover their histories and surprisingly they become a family of outsiders, maybe the only way they can survive. A strong sense of social justice permeates the intelligence of the writing, plot and sub plots are tied in seamlessly exposing more of the tenants lives that brings compassion to their situations, the twists and turns leave you breathless.
Memorable scenes of fabulously researched grisliness are suffused with dark gallows humour that made me giggle uproariously as well as turn my delicate stomach as the killer is slowly revealed. As well as the killer there is an utterly vile landlord who gets a marvellous come uppance.
This book keeps you guessing to the last, you think you know but you don't, I was unable to put it down. A fantastic read which is much more than a thriller and a rather excellent thriller at that!
Can't wait for the next one.