Today I am sharing my thoughts on The Resident, the latest dark thriller from David Jackson. My thanks to publisher Viper Books for the early review copy, here is what the book is all about:
About the Book
THERE’S A SERIAL KILLER ON THE RUNAvailable from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Googleplay | Apple Books | Hive
AND HE’S HIDING IN YOUR HOUSE
Thomas Brogan is a serial killer. Having left a trail of bodies in his wake, and with the police hot on his heels, it seems like Thomas has nowhere left to hide. That is until he breaks into an abandoned house at the end of a terrace on a quiet street. And when he climbs up into the loft, he realises that the can drop down into all the other houses on the street through the shared attic space.
That’s when the real fun begins. Because the one thing that Thomas enjoys even more than killing, is playing games with his victims. And his new neighbours have more than enough dark secrets to make this game his best one yet…
Do you fear The Resident? Soon you’ll be dying to meet him.
Well okay. So I have to admit this book has left me with mixed feelings. Not in a bad way, the book is most excellent and kept me glued to the page from start to finish. It’s just that I am starting to wonder whether I just have a very dark mind or whether, given the modern horror that is covid, and lockdown, and all the fun (?) that goes with it all, there is nothing left in this world that can shock or unnerve me. I say that because the premise of this story – essentially a murderer, on the run, spying on his new ‘neighbours’ and planning all kinds of dastardly deeds – didn;t shock me or unnerve me in quite the way I thought it probably should. I mean – I have an attic, connected in a row of terraced houses, Not been up there in years and have no idea if the neighbours could drop in unannounced or whether one has taken the trouble to block off the spaces between houses. Anything is possible.
I think that part of the problem may be that, as twisted, creepy and just plain strange as Brogan was, i sort of kind of liked him. Despite learning, as we do, throughout the course of the novel just what he has been up to prior to the start of the book, I couldn’t bring myself to totally dislike him. In fact there were elements of his character I could sympathise with, and certainly his soul was not quite as black as the circumstances may make it appear. He is definitely a killer – no question about that, and, when pushed, he is one evil SOB, but he also has a softer side too as demonstrated in his relationship with one of the residents, Elsie. Now, to be fair, Brogan does take more than he gives in this all too strange friendship that develops, but it does make you think about the complexities of his psyche and the fact that killers are not necessarily all inherently evil. And the story does make you think long and hard about whether killers are born or made, but I’ll leave you to make your own judgements on that.
There are moments of high tension throughout the book, where the authors skill at drawing me deeper into the story comes to the fore, And there are plenty of moments of voyeurism that make the skin crawl, and these are the moments that I know I am not a completely hopeless case as those are the times when Brogan is not in the least bit likeable. But then again, neither are all of his neighbours and, in some cases, you do feel it is a case of karma taking over, even if karme seems to be suffering the mother of all hangovers and taking the retribution just a few steps too far. Okay – so they actually were giant leaps too far, but who’s checking?
What I did enjoy about this book (aside from the odd mindless murder that was eventually described – Brogan is quite inventive bless him), was the way in which the author really set the scene and made you feel you were there. From the way he took you through each of the individual houses, creating a real sense of place as Brogan ‘called in’ on each of his neighbours, through to the unpleasant side effects of his gaining a new housemate a little later on in the story, everything was so vividly described and authentic that I almost felt the need to go and grab a can of Raid from the kitchen. And the exploration of Brogan’s emotions, mixed up as they were, really made me invested in him as a character.
As I said at the beginning, mixed emotions. I’m just not sure if I should have been more on edge than I was. The whole idea of such voyeurism, that the neighbours were all sitting ducks and they never even knew it, even down to Brogan’s obsession with Colette, certainly made the skin prickle but I suppose it is the skill of the author that kept it just the right side of too creepy, that he managed to make me want to read more about Brogan, knowing that he should, and hopefully would, get his comeuppance, but certainly enjoying tagging along for the ride in the meantime. The pacing was spot on, not lingering on anyone aspect of the story for too long, and I whizzed through the whole thing in an evening. And as well as Brogan, I really did like the character of Elsie, as befuddled as she was for most of the story, bless her.
Definitely a book I’d recommend but, if you are a sensitive wee soul who lives at the end of a row of terraced houses with any empty properties in the row, you may just want to take a quick check around the attic first. Just saying.
About the Author
David Jackson is the author of eight crime novels, including the bestseller Cry Baby. When not murdering fictional people, David spends his days as a university academic in his home city of Liverpool.