Those People by Louise Candlish
Penguin Random House: 6/11/19
eBook review copy; 368 pages
Those People by Louise Candlish is a recommended domestic thriller.
In Lowland Way the houses are all perfectly maintained and the
neighbors all get along - until Darren and Jodie move into the house he
inherited. They arrive at the house on the corner lot and immediately
begin an unsightly renovation project leaving piles of debris
everywhere. Darren is undertaken all the work himself, in between
working on the overabundance of vehicles he brought with him to start an
illegal used car business from his home. If matters could be even
worse, along with all the construction noise they blast heavy metal
music late into the night. The stress becomes overwhelming to the couple
with an infant who live next door to the noise, and to the older woman
who begins to lose her excellent rating, customers, and her source of
income at the bed and breakfast she runs out of her home. Adding to the
fracas is the truculent, hostile attitude Darren seemingly exhibits to
anyone who questions his choices.
The beginning of the story is told through flashbacks, and from
different character's point-of view, beginning eight weeks previously
and leading up to the day an unexpected death occurs. There are police
interviews with various neighbors about the death which are included
between chapters. This is a slow burner of a novel as the various
characters are introduced and the conflict between the neighbors is
developed slowly and hidden resentments come to light. Since we know
right from the start that an unexpected death has happened, the
beginning of the novel consists of looking for clues as we meet all the
neighbors and all of the neighbors are discussing various actions to get rid of Darren.
None of the characters are particularity likeable and not all of them
are as well developed as others. As the story unfolds it becomes clear
that many of the good neighbors aren't quite as perfect as they think
and that there were underlying problems in many of the relationships
before Darren moved in and stirred things up. Many readers who has
experienced having challenging neighbors, will feel some sympathy for
the neighbors who want to keep Lowland Way looking like an ideal
neighborhood, have everyone voluntarily follow their rules, and keep
their property values high.
The writing is good, although I found the plot a little too slow
moving and certain plot elements required setting disbelief aside. The
narrative does draw on a common theme that many people can relate to -
the "bad" neighbors, "those people," who are disrupting the normal flow
of life on the street. Alternating the points-of-view leading up to
death worked well, but after the death some of the incentive to keep
reading is lost. The final denouement was a surprise, but the lead up to
it could have been tightened up a bit to keep the plot moving along at a
little brisker pace. This is a solid summer read.
My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Random House.