The Bad Neighbour by David Tallerman
I was really fortunate to have this book sent to me in exchange for a review from Flame Tree Press, but my other half liked the look of it so much he nabbed it for himself.
Here's his review!
Here's his review!
The back cover blurb gave me a good idea of what to expect but I was still shocked by how gripped by the story I became.
When part-time teacher Ollie Clay panic-buys a rundown house in the outskirts of Leeds, he soon recognizes his mistake. His new neighbor, Chas Walker, is an antisocial thug, and Ollie's suspicions raise links to a local hate group. With Ollie's life unravelling rapidly, he feels his choices dwindling: his situation is intolerable and only standing up to Chas can change it. But Ollie has his own history of violence, and increasingly, his own secrets to hide; and Chas may be more than the mindless yob he appears to be. As their conflict spills over into the wider world, Ollie will come to learn that there are worse problems in life than one bad neighbor.
What strikes me as so capturing is how much I could relate to the story's protagonist, Ollie. A lot of us have been there. Investing or wanting to invest a lot of time and emotion into your first house/flat purchase only to have your heart broken on discovering the property isn't all you thought it was when you learn your neighbour is as antisocial as they come.
Okay, that hasn't quite happened to me but the book makes it very easy to imagine yourself in Ollie's shoes. All your money invested in what a third party would only describe as shithole, which only dawns on you after the purchase when you have the displeasure of meeting the tyrant next door. All scarily relatable.
Of course things don't stop there. Without spoiling the twists and turns of the story, the neighbour is worse than merely an antisocial annoyance; his neo-nazi extremist views extend to actions also. Personally I found it really upsetting to reluctantly admit these types of people probably still exist in today's society. I would say if any potential readers are particularly sensitive to racism or have traumatic personal experience on that topic I could imagine this a tough read so proceed with caution in that case. Otherwise it certainly works to make you hate the antagonists and places you squarely behind Ollie and friends. It makes you wonder what you would do when confronted by such evil.
It really is a great read, I'd rate it very high as a real world gritty thriller. The kind of story that has me flying through the pages as my schedule will allow and thinking about the the story when I put it down.
Colin Farr, book reader extraordinaire.