Cat Thomas relocates to Edinburgh, fleeing death threats related to her job as a fraud investigator in Florida. Her 18th-Century Dean Village flat is utterly idyllic except for one thing…the devil upstairs.
Cat lies awake, delirious from lack of sleep, dreaming of ways in which to get rid of the utterly inconsiderate neighbour who keeps her awake every night with loud music and wild parties. Desperate for a solution, she joins a work friend at a witches’ conclave, and is blissfully surprised when the neighbour’s noise suddenly stops.
But when the devil upstairs is found dead and Cat’s seemingly perfect man arrives in his place, the problems she thought were solved come back to haunt her in new and unexpected ways.
I was really pleased to receive a copy of ‘The Devil Upstairs’ to review, with thanks to Black & White Publishing and of course, the author Anthony O’Neill. Once I started reading, I was hooked straight away into our protagonist’s relocation from a lifetime in Florida, to a completely contrasting environment of Edinburgh city. Edinburgh is a perfect setting for this story, and a favourite place of mine too.
Cat Thomas, after facing death threats as part of her fraud investigation work, is now based in a two-bedroom flat in a converted 18th century building – everything begins perfectly until the tenant of the flat above comes back. She is faced with the neighbour from hell who is loud, inconsiderate and beyond rude.
We watch Cat slowly deteriorate from lack of sleep until she despairingly agrees to visit a local witches coven as a potential answer to her hellish neighbour above. The meeting is rather a bizarre sulphur-fuelled event! Now, this is where things become decidedly strange and the book takes a sharp tonal turn. I quite like the weird and wacky, so I happily read on into a darker territory of suspicions, secrets, odd behaviours, threats and death. It’s now a study of Cat’s conscience (or lack of), police investigations, a mysterious new attractive tenant and an acerbating fraud investigation that alienates her at work.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this, it’s a pacy coherently plotted nightmarish tale of threat and devilry. If you’ve ever had, or even currently have, a hellish neighbour then reading this may be rather cathartic…
I suspect the author once had a neighbour from hell himself and was perhaps purging emotions through this book, rather than indulging in the route you’d probably want to take at 3am in the morning!
Anthony O’Neill was born in Melbourne and lives in Edinburgh. He is the author of Dr Jekyll & Mr Seek, his sequal to Dr Jekyll & Hyde; Scheherazade, an Arabian Nights homage; The Lamplighter, a psychological horror; The Empire of Eternity, a history-mystery involving Napoleon and Egyptology; The Unscratchables, a satire featuring dog and cat detectives and The Dark Side, a crime novel set on the far side of the moon. Film rights to The Dark Side have been sold to 20th Century Fox.