I’m a huge fan of Iain Maitland’s writing and its far too long since I have featured him here on Linda’s Book Bag. I was delighted to be invited onto the blog tour for Iain’s latest book, The Girl Downstairs. My enormous thanks to Zoe of Zooloo’s Book Tours for the opportunity to share my review today.
You’ll find my review of Iain’s Mr Todd’s Reckoning here which was one of my books of the year in 2019 and of Sweet William here.
Published by Inkubator Books on 21st November 2021, The Girl Downstairs is available for purchase here.
The Girl Downstairs
He’s been watching and waiting. And now he’s found her.
Rosie is homeless and winter is closing in. So she can’t believe her luck when a total stranger, Mr. Adams, invites her to stay.
But Mr. Adams has a secret. He has chosen Rosie because she reminds him of someone very special from long ago. Maybe she can even help him recapture that distant happiness.
Of course, she might need a little encouragement, but that’s fine…
What he doesn’t realise is that Rosie has a secret too, a secret that will have horrifying consequences for them both.
So instead of the heaven he had hoped to find, Mr. Adams finds himself fighting to escape the nightmare of… the girl downstairs.
The Girl Downstairs – the stunning psychological thriller, perfect for fans of Mark Edwards, K. L. Slater, Miranda Rijks.
My Review of The Girl Downstairs
Philip Adams befriends the homeless Rosie.
Good grief. I have no idea how to review The Girl Downstairs. It’s a transfixing narrative that disturbs the reader even as it entertains them. I found it highly uncomfortable to read at times – indeed I felt almost tainted – and yet simply had to know the outcomes of the story and the truth about Philip Adams.
In Mr. Adams Iain Maitland creates a his protagonist with such dexterity that it makes the reader as complicit in his actions as if they’d carried them out themselves. He’s repulsive and attractive as a human being in such equal measure that I couldn’t decide if I felt sorry for Philip Adams even as he made my flesh creep or if I found him contemptible even as I admired him. This is such skilful writing. Even after I’ve read the book I still have some ambivalence about this complex, flawed, dangerous, compassionate and totally fascinating man.
Rosie too is an unreliable character so that reading The Girl Downstairs felt a bit like balancing on the pivot of a see-saw. One moment I felt my allegiance to her and the next to Mr. Adams. I trusted neither and felt unsettled by them both. The ironically named dog Fluffy aside, with just two characters present for the majority of the story there’s a terrifying claustrophobia enhanced by the deep snow cutting off Bluebell cottages that creates a dramatic and unnerving atmosphere.
The plot often focuses on the prosaic aspects of life such as preparing meals, showering and sleeping. This means that the major events become all the more shocking and the effect on the reader is even more profound because it is easy to identify with aspects like making lunch, so that the reader feels part of the creepy story. What Iain Maitland does so brilliantly is drop clues into his writing that can be interpreted in so many ways that the reader isn’t sure what to think.
The themes in The Girl Downstairs are those that are crucial to today’s society. Homelessness, identity, the need for love and shelter, family, addiction, mental health and assumptions and expectations are so sensitively presented. Iain Maitland forces his reader to confront aspects of life we’d rather ignore so that I genuinely feel altered by reading The Girl Downstairs.
I’m aware I haven’t effectively described this book as it’s so difficult not to give anything away, but I can say that, deliciously dark, shocking and compelling, The Girl Downstairs is a must read. Read it for yourself to find out what I mean!
About Iain Maitland
Iain Maitland is the author of three previous psych thrillers, The Scribbler (2020), Mr Todd’s Reckoning (2019) and Sweet William (2017), all published by Contraband, an imprint of Saraband. Mr Todd’s Reckoning is coming to the big screen in 2023.
Iain is also the author of two memoirs, Dear Michael, Love Dad (Hodder, 2016), a book of letters written to his eldest son who experienced depression and anorexia, and (co-authored with Michael) Out Of The Madhouse (Jessica Kingsley, 2018).
He is also an Ambassador for Stem4, the teenage mental health charity. He talks regularly about mental health issues in schools and colleges and workplaces.
Find Iain Maitland on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @iainmaitland and visit his website for more information.
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