downstairs neighbor helen cooper
Book Review / Helen Cooper / Reviews with Spoilers

Helen Cooper | The Downstairs Neighbor

downstairs neighbor helen cooper

The Book: 

The Downstairs Neighbor by Helen Cooper, 2021

The Characters: 

Emma and Zeb
Steph and Paul and their daughter Freya
Chris and Vicky
In the past, Kate, her mom, and her cousin Becca

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Get it on Amazon.

Thank you to Putnam Books for a gifted copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Plot (from Goodreads):

From her downstairs apartment in suburban London, Emma has often overheard the everyday life of the seemingly perfect family upstairs–Steph, Paul and teenage daughter Freya–but has never got to know them. Until one day, she hears something that seizes her attention: Freya has vanished and the police are questioning Steph and Paul about their life. Do either of you have any enemies? Anyone who might want to harm or threaten you?

The effects of Freya’s disappearance ripple outward, affecting not just her parents, but everyone who lives in the building, including Emma and local driving instructor Chris, who was the last person to see the teenager before she went missing. Each character’s life is thrown into sharp focus as devastating mistakes and long-held secrets are picked apart and other crimes come to light–including a child gone missing 25 years before, and a shocking murder–that make clear that the past never stays where we leave it, and that homes can be built on foundations of lies.

Click here for book spoilers for The Downstairs Neighbor
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read The Downstairs Neighbor, I suggest you turn back now.

The Twist:

Steph and Kate are the same person. 

In the past, Kate and Becca killed Nick by dosing him with Becca’s seizure medication. They thought he was abusing Kate’s mom, but really Kate’s mom had cancer and Nick was helping her keep it a secret. Becca was convicted of Nick’s murder and Kate never confessed. She changed her name and became Steph. 

Paul used to be an undercover cop, trying to locate a missing girl. He fell in love with the mother of the missing girl, and when she found out who he was she killed herself. This storyline was the red herring. 

Zeb was Emma’s son, not her boyfriend. He was romantically involved with Freya and was responsible for all the threatening messages, since Freya told him too. 

Freya was blackmailing Chris because she thought he was stealing from his other driving students. (Actually, his wife was stealing from her patients and Chris was trying to return the items).

Becca, now out of prison, had contacted Chris and asked him if he wanted to get revenge on the Harlow family. Chris was desperate for money and said yes. He and Freya fought over the wheel; he swerved and she hit her head. Chris thought she was dead and called Becca. Becca took the body away. 

The Ending:

Freya wasn’t dead. Steph went to Becca’s house and found her sick but alive.

The Review: 

I have been reading a ton of amazing debuts lately, and The Downstairs Neighbor certainly continues that trend.

This story is told mostly in the present, through the perspectives of the various residents of the same apartment building: Emma, Steph, Chris, and Paul. The reader quickly learns that all of these individuals have secrets, but which ones are related to Freya’s disappearance? 

There are also a few chapters from the point of view of Kate, 25 years in the past. Who is Kate?? I was eager to figure out what her storyline had to do with the present, and whether it would tie into Freya’s disappearance. 

I enjoyed the pacing of this book. The beginning was a little slower with a lot of backstory, but it quickly picks up into an action-packed page turner. 

The ending wrapped all of the perspectives together in a very satisfying way. My guess at the kidnapper was completely wrong! Overall, I see this book easily becoming another wildly popular thriller. I can’t wait to see what Helen Cooper has in store for us next!

The Downstairs Neighbor will be available next week on February 16, 2021.

downstairs neighbor helen cooper

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