The Daves Next Door by Will Carver

Today I am delighted to join the blog tour for The Daves Next Door, the brand new, typically unconventional, ever challenging and thought provoking novel from Will Carver. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invite and to publisher Orenda Books for the advance copy for review. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy
Release Date: 21 July 2022
Publisher: Orenda Books

About the Book

A disillusioned nurse suddenly learns how to care.

An injured young sportsman wakes up find that he can see only in black and white.

A desperate old widower takes too many pills and believes that two angels have arrived to usher him through purgatory.

Two agoraphobic men called Dave share the symptoms of a brain tumour, and frequently waken their neighbour with their ongoing rows.

Separate lives, running in parallel, destined to collide and then explode.

Like the suicide bomber, riding the Circle Line, day after day, waiting for the right time to detonate, waiting for answers to his questions: Am I God? Am I dead? Will I blow up this train?

Shocking, intensely emotive and wildly original, Will Carver’s The Daves Next Door is an explosive existential thriller and a piercing examination of what it means to be human … or not.

My Thoughts

I’d like to say that in picking up a Will Carver novel you know the kind of book that you are going to get, but if I did that I’d really be on the verge of telling the world’s biggest porkie pie. The expected is probably the last thing you are going to find in a Will Carver book, generally the literary equivalent of Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. Deliciously unconventional, mind bendingly challenging and utterly compelling reading, there is no denying there is a certain tone that typifies the author’s work – demonstrated here so very clearly and cleverly – but it is almost the certainty of the irrationality of the books that make them stand out. This particular skirts around the edges in of the Detective Pace ‘not quite a series’ series, with nods to some of the previous tomes, but stands alone as a story which will challenge, infuriate and bewilder readers. I quite enjoyed it.

This book certainly didn’t feel as angry as some of the author’s more recent works, although there is a kind of toned down condemnation of some of the excesses of modern society. Told through the stories of a handful of very diverse, truly memorable characters, the story switches back and forth in terms of point of view in typical Carver style. But, whilst we would normally understand the disposability of some of the characters we meet, it is clear that each and every one of the characters we engage with this time, through their own unique stories, has a very important part to play in what comes to pass. With echoes of Nothing Important Happened Today, and more than a touch of a Hinton Hollow-esque nature to the story, this is a story that takes us into the complicated sphere of a nurse, a widower, a few patients, some abusers, a playwright and a would be terrorist. At least … they might be.

If you haven’t read iInton Hollow or Nothing Important, and it is not vital that you have, then some of the references may pass you by. For those in the know, an wry smile or two are likely. There is almost something comforting in the complex and twisted way in which all these individual stories blend together. And I mean that is a very loose sense of the word ‘comforting’. It is clear that one of the characters, the one story told from a first person point of view, is set to be a suicide bomber in the midst of a series of vicious attacks that are set to rock London and so, if the thought of this is likely to cause offence, this might not be the book for you. But the book is not about the attacks, they are a byproduct of the real reason we are here, and lead to questions around theology, prejudice and how quickly we move to assumptions. It forces you to challenge your beliefs, and speaks to the very nature of apathy that grows ever stronger in society. Whilst some of this book may be very fictional (I assume …) other elements actually feel depressingly plausible.

This is a very Will Carver book, and those who are familiar with the author’s work will know what I mean by that. It’s hard to put into words. It’s an almost conversational, not quite dismissive but definitely sardonic style of writing. He acts as a mirror, reflecting back on all the parts of modern life that we may well wish to disguise. I won’t get into the whole existence of good verses evil, or God verses the Devil, but it we assume that, as in Hinton Hollow, evil really does exist and comes in human shape and form, is it possible that God, or inherent good, is similarly formed? Now the end of the book takes a somewhat unexpected turn – although is there even such a thing in a WC novel – but then I guess that is the very nature of these books. The author never explicitly states a case one way or another as to the veracity of certain claims or assumptions made in those final pages. Did we as reader/voyeur, see what we thought we did or are we as unreliable as the witnesses, each of whom experienced a very different kind of epiphany? And does it even matter. Literature, as in life, all comes down to individual interpretation after all.

Another twisted, unexpected, sometimes upsetting, often challenging novel that just screams of vintage Will Carver. One of the most unique authors in the Orenda stable and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Definitely recommended for readers who like their books on the less conventional side.

About the Author

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Will’s latest title published by Orenda Books, The Beresford came out in July 2021. His previous title Hinton Hollow Death Trip was longlisted for the Not the Booker Prize, while Nothing Important Happened Today was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express.

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