A Noise Downstairs

A psychological thriller by Linwood Barclay.

Linwood Barclay

Paul Davis is hearing some very strange noises in the night. He hears the clickety-click of a manual typewriter — as if someone is vigorously tapping the keys. The eerie sounds began soon after his wife, Charlotte, bought him a classic antique Underwood. But only Paul can hear the noise coming from downstairs; Charlotte doesn't hear anything unusual.

Is Paul losing his mind? Maybe. Or is something really there? Eight months ago, he stumbled upon Connecticut's infamous "Apology Killer" — a psychopath who forced his victims to typewrite personal apologies to him before he cut their throats — disposing of two mutilated bodies on Milford's Post Road. Most shocking of all, the killer was his colleague, someone he thought he knew. Paul's been seeing a therapist for months to recover from the nearly fatal encounter, but his nerves and short-term memory have suffered since the traumatic event.

There's only one way to learn if the noises are real or a figment of his hyper-imagination. One night, Paul rolls a sheet of paper into the machine. The next morning, when he checks the page, there is a chilling message:

"We typed our apologies like he asked but he killed us anyway."

As he desperately searches to find a rational explanation for the note and the noises, Paul slowly begins to consider the unthinkable: The message is authentic, and the women butchered by his colleague are reaching out to him from beyond the grave. (From Doubleday Canada)

From the book

Driving along the Post Road late that early October night, Paul Davis was pretty sure the car driving erratically in front of him belonged to his colleague Kenneth Hoffman. The ancient, dark blue Volvo station wagon was a fixture around West Haven College, a cliché on wheels of what a stereotypical professor drove.

It was just after eleven, and Paul wondered whether Kenneth — always Kenneth, never Ken — knew his left taillight was cracked, white light bleeding through the red plastic lens. Hadn't he mentioned something the other day, about someone backing into him in the faculty parking lot and not leaving a note under the windshield wiper?

A busted taillight was the kind of thing that undoubtedly would annoy Kenneth. The car's lack of back-end symmetry, the automotive equivalent of an unbalanced equation, would definitely irk Kenneth, a math and physics professor.


Linwood Barclay at home

9 years ago
Duration 3:44
The best-selling Canadian author's crime novels are critically acclaimed around the world, yet he's little-known here at home, Deana Sumanac reports
Best-selling author Linwood Barclay is a master of keeping his readers guessing. The mystery author talks to Candy about the art of wrapping up a trilogy, and the keys to being a master of suspense.