When buying a new house, one of the most asked questions from buyers is along the lines of ‘…and what are the neighbours like?’
Horrible neighbours are something that most of us fear, especially those of us who have suffered them in the past. No-one wants unpleasant people living in close proximity to them, making their lives a misery, but that’s exactly what happens to the residents of Lowland Way when an elderly neighbour passes away and the house is passed through the family to Darren and Jodie Booth.
Lowland Way is a relatively posh suburban area of South London enjoying media interest for the ‘play out Sunday’ initiative the residents have devised – every weekend the cars are moved, the neighbours socialise, and the kiddies play out safely in the street. When Darren arrives, he refuses to entertain the idea and parks his collection of clapped out old cars and caravans on the street and makes it clear that he isn’t planning on moving them anytime soon. It quickly becomes obvious that Darren is running an illegal motor trading business from his new home, and along with playing loud music at unsocial hours and making huge, noisy and unsafe renovations to his inherited house, he is not making a good impression on the genteel residents of Lowland Way. He is especially hated by his next-door neighbours who suffer his loud music at all hours of the day and night through the wall they share which unfortunately borders their new baby’s nursery.
But the residents aren’t going to take this behaviour lying down. They get together to see if they can find a way to end Darren and Jodie’s reign of terror. When traditional routes such as the police and local council fail them, they start to think up more sinister ways to get rid of the unwanted couple. As a group, they’re pretty ineffective as they’re all worried about landing on the wrong side of the law – but they’re all taking matters into their own hands as well, which only causes more trouble. Before long, a tragedy occurs…from then on, the police become involved, things become completely unbearable, and then get steadily worse.
My main criticism of the book and why I gave it a 3.5 – it starts off very slowly. For me it took a bit too long setting the scene and left me waiting for something to happen. When I did get to the end I found it a bit far-fetched although I suppose it’s fair to say that desperation makes people do strange and unusual things. However, Louise Candlish is an excellent writer who keeps you engrossed in the story even when not very much is happening and I read this book quickly as I wanted to find out what became of the people of Lowland Way. The story builds nicely and the subject matter will really resonate with anyone who has had a troublesome neighbour, especially one who seems to get a huge kick out of upsetting the status quo. The character development of the various residents is done ever so subtly and the creeping, bullying menace of Darren Booth really jumps out of the pages at you.
Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher and the author for providing me with an ARC in return for an honest review.