REVIEW: THE DOWNSTAIRS NEIGHBOR, BY HELEN COOPER

 

One House. Three Families. Countless Secrets.

From her downstairs apartment in suburban London, Emma has often overheard the everyday life of the seemingly perfect family upstairs—Steph, Paul and teenage daughter Freya—but has never got to know them. Until one day, she hears something that seizes her attention: Freya has vanished and the police are questioning Steph and Paul about their life. Do either of you have any enemies? Anyone who might want to harm or threaten you?

The effects of Freya’s disappearance ripple outward, affecting not just her parents, but everyone who lives in the building, including Emma and local driving instructor Chris, who was the last person to see the teenager before she went missing. Each character’s life is thrown into sharp focus as devastating mistakes and long-held secrets are picked apart and other crimes come to light—including a child gone missing twenty-five years earlier, and a shocking murder—that make clear that the past never stays where we leave it, and that homes can be built on foundations of lies.
 
 
 
an interior journey thoughts

From the opening narrative, The Downstairs Neighbor revealed the residents of an old house turned into apartments, and there is a spooky presence there from the beginning.

Emma’s voice is first heard, as she describes eavesdropping on the upstairs neighbors. We gradually learn more about her with each of her alternating narratives.

There is Chris, who teaches driving to high schoolers; then there are Steph and Paul, whose daughter Freya goes missing.

Finally, we are swept back in time twenty-five years to Kate and her mother, their secrets slowly brought to light. What, if anything, connects the past with the present?

Who has taken Freya? Or has she simply run away? As the search continues, we learn more about them all. By the end, we clearly see what has happened…and we realize the truth. But will it be too late? A five star read.
 
***

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