Macmillan | 2019 (4 April) | 416p | Review copy | Buy the book
When the Lockwoods move into 25 The Avenue one hot summer it’s not long before they regret it. Not long at all. It’s barely hours before The Avenue is disturbed by the arrival of the police. The serial killer nicknamed The Doll Keeper has claimed another victim, found right next to The Avenue, and this one is of particular significance to the detectives investigating the case. The arrival of the new family is a welcome distraction to their neighbours who have had a great deal to contend with. But this is a street full of twitching curtains, binoculars and cameras, inquisitive eyes. Is there anybody who lives in The Avenue without something to hide? The Lockwoods are about to get a lesson in life in The Avenue.
The Neighbour is without doubt one of the most atmospherically menacing and sinister novels that I’ve read in quite some time. In fact, quite possibly since I read Fiona Cummins’ other fantastic books, Rattle and The Collector. Here is an author who not only writes and plots brilliantly, but she also knows how to get under our skin and into our brains, until the reader is left a shivering wreck. I read The Neighbour at night by lamplight. I read other things in the daytime. The Neighbour is a book that belongs to the night.
I don’t want to give anything away about the plot because it is so rewardingly complex, with one thing leading to another, and the slightest thing might spoil it. It’s best to go into The Neighbour cold. It won’t be long before you’re sucked into its mood and you’re engrossed by the author’s storytelling powers.
The characters are many and they are each so vividly painted. The interactions between them are drawn so beautifully. Everyone sparks off somebody else. Everybody watches or is watched – or both. The Lockwoods have to find their place and it’s so hard to look away.
And so all I can do is urge you to turn down the lights and curl up with quite possibly the most atmospheric tale of murder we will encounter in 2019. This isn’t about blood or gore, although you’ll certainly encounter scenes that may make your skin crawl, it’s about a mood and a place, and those cursed to live there. It is excellent.