Book Review | Those People by Louise Candlish

Lowland Way, a suburban London enclave, has earned itself a reputation. With ever-rising house prices and the invention of ‘play-out Sunday’, a no-cars rule designed to transform the urban street into a 1950’s child’s utopia, it’s a reputation they’ll go far to protect. But just how far?

‘Today, Lowland Way would be back to its community-spirited, rising-house-prices best.’

When Darren Booth moves into house number one, inherited from his Aunt, and immediately begins construction work, there’s a ripple of distaste down the street. Distaste which has an undeniable class tilt; in his workman’s gear, with his foul-mouth and cigarette habit, Booth is at odds with the carefully cultivated reputation of the middle-class community. His being there, with his girlfriend Jodie, begins to threaten the harmony of the residents.

Booth is, by all accounts, the neighbour from hell. He runs a used-car business from his front drive; his construction is an eyesore and he gets outrageously drunk with his girlfriend and plays heavy metal music at all hours of the day and night. Still, what starts as a case of nimbyism quite quickly becomes a lot darker: the residents of Lowland way become convinced that he is a scourge on the community who must be stopped at all costs.

‘He was like a teenager coming home from holiday and hoping to see the girl he wanted to get off with – expect he was in fact a middle-aged man coming home from holiday and hoping to see the neighbour he wanted to kill. How had it got this surreal?’

There is a nod to Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express – one of the characters even refers to the famous plot – and there is a sense of this here, where it seems that every single neighbour has a reason to despise Booth and Jodie. There isn’t any of Christie’s finesse – there’s a large cast of characters, and yet we don’t really get under the skin of any of them, nor are they given any real distinguishable features. The twists and turns, whilst well-plotted in the context of the novel, aren’t as shocking or revelatory as they might be. Lacking in true mystery and suspense we’ve come to expect from a domestic noir, it was nevertheless an enjoyable, pacy read; an interesting comment on mob mentality and fearing those who you set apart as different.

If you’re looking to read a Louise Candlish thriller, I recommend Our House, which I reviewed back in 2018.

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