From Austen to zombies!
In any big city, people whose lives are in transition drift in and out of places like 23 Beulah Grove, at the edge of the London sprawl. Once a respectable Edwardian house, it's now divided into six small, dusty apartments. The landlord is a creep, but he doesn't ask too many questions--and that's just what these tenants need.
When a desperate woman rents a just-vacated room, she meets the other five tenants: a Persian asylum-seeker, a man who never turns off his music, a self-described "perky scouse" girl from Liverpool, a friendly but boring guy whose work hours have been cut, and an older lady with a "secure tenancy"--a permanent lease.
Everyone is nice enough, but all of them, even the landlord, have some things they'd rather not talk about--especially the one who's a killer with some imaginatively sick preferences. And all of them are in for more adventure than they ever thought they'd have!
Like Alex Marwood's last book (The Wicked Girls), The Killer Next Door is a stand-alone thriller. But again, within that framework, the author manages to explore some themes more often seen only in the Literary genre: the transient nature of some friendships, the sting of class inequality, the difficulty of change in human lives, and the side effects of gentrification, just to name a few.
And again, in spite of the different and bigger cast of characters this time, all are fully developed: like them or hate them, all are real people. I love thrillers, but often I find myself wishing for something a little chewier--this fits the bill nicely, and Marwood is already on my favorite authors list.
One warning: if you're at all sensitive, there are some pretty graphic (and gross!) passages here that were enough to make me pause the book and breathe deeply for a minute before going back to the story. But of course I did go back to the story--I had to find out what would happen next!
Part of that was because Imogen Church's narration didn't let me down--she brought out both the warmth and the fear in this story, as well as doing a great job on all the British accents.
Stephen King described this book as "scary as hell," and I agree--but thanks to Marwood's talent, it's so much more than a good scare. If you liked The Wicked Girls (or if you are a fan of Gillian Flynn, or Laura Lippman), you'll love The Killer Next Door. Highly recommended!