Today I am part of the Blog Tour for The Man on the Middle Floor by Elizabeth S Moore, I was provided with a copy of this intriguing new novel by @RedDoorBooks to read and share my thoughts.
Review – The Man on the Middle floor Elizabeth S Moore
The man on the middle floor is a dark and rather disturbing novel about several dysfunctional people who live in flats on the 3 floors of a converted London townhouse who become unwittingly involved in a spate of deaths which occur close by.
Although the subject matter is dissimilar the writing style reminded me rather of early Hilary Mantel in particular her novel Beyond black. Although there is no hint of the supernatural in this tale of murder and mayhem and folk who just don’t fit the mould, there is the same sense of bleakness and desperation and cleverly constructed characters, shaped by their own pasts.
The Victorian townhouse in question, overlooks a park and each floor has a lone, single occupant, each ensconced in their own little world, practically unaware of the other residents apart from the odd door slamming or a glimpse through the window as people come and go.
On the ground floor is Karen, middle aged, divorced Mother of 3, devoted to her career as a medical researcher writing a paper on people with autism and aspergers she is sure will change the world. She puts her work before everyone, her colleagues, her family, her friends and neighbours and even herself. But is she absorbed and dedicated as she lurches from mishap to crisis, or so obsessed she misses what’s going on right under her own nose?
On the middle floor is Nick, a young man unused to living alone yet desperately seeking solitude. He battles his inner demons and his autism means he keeps everyone at bay, creating a haven of order and trying to live by the rules he struggles to make sense of. He wants to fit in but can he?
Up on the top floor lives Tam, a recently retired police officer, he is lonely and feels useless without the job he has called his life for so long. He seeks solace at the bottom of a whisky bottle but can he find what is missing from his life in the arms of a passionate woman?
Three individuals, 3 separate lives playing out within a small space. Unsurprisingly eventually all three characters paths cross. Will they be each others salvation or damnation?
I found this book much darker than I expected, there is a distinctly distasteful aspect and the fact that a cute kitten accompanies a very dead young woman on the admittedly very intriguing and eyecatching book cover should have warned me that all was not going to go well within these pages. Yet I quickly became engrossed in the events and it made for a very entertaining and thought provoking read.
There is a character whom the author possibly intended the reader to feel some kind of sympathy for, but I didn’t, I disliked them intensely, as their actions appalled me. But it is a book about failed relationships, disorder and discontinuity which made it difficult to relate to any of the deeply flawed characters so that shouldn’t surprise me.
There is a lot of dark humour in the morbid scenes which play out and a grim reminder that nobody is quite what they seem to be on the surface, nor how they perceive themselves.
Something about the book reminded me somewhat of Hilary Mantel's early work - Beyond Black with a similar feel to the writing and the same darkness buried in everyday lives.
A very well written absorbing novel which entertained throughout, kept me reading and ended up leaving quite an impression on me. What more can one ask of a book?
Lionel Shriver meets Mark Haddon in this break-out debut.
Despite living in the same three-flat house in the suburbs of London, the residents are strangers to one another.
The bottom floor is home to Tam, a recent ex-cop who spends his days drowning his sorrows in whisky.
On the middle floor is Nick, a young man with Asperger's who likes to stick to his schedules and routines.
The top floor belongs to Karen, a doctor and researcher who has spent her life trying to understand the rising rates of autism.
They have lived their lives separately, until now, when an unsolved murder and the man on the middle floor connect them all together.
Told from three points of view, The Man on the Middle Floor is about disconnection in all its forms; sexual, physical, parental and emotional.
It questions whether society is meeting the needs of the fast growing autistic section of society, or exacerbating it.
Thought-provoking and thrilling, The Man on the Middle Floor will leave readers talking.