Published by HQ on August 8th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Friendship, Mystery, Suspense, Thrillers
Source: From the publisher
Have you met them yet, the new couple?
When Gav and Lou move into the house next door, Sara spends days plucking up courage to say hello. The neighbours are glamorous, chaotic and just a little eccentric. They make the rest of Sara's street seem dull by comparison.
When the hand of friendship is extended, Sara is delighted and flattered. Incredibly, Gav and Lou seem to see something in Sara and Neil that they admire too. In no time at all, the two couples are soulmates, sharing suppers, bottles of red wine and childcare, laughing and trading stories and secrets late into the night in one another's houses.
And the more time Sara spends with Gav and Lou, the more she longs to make changes in her own life. But those changes will come at a price. Soon Gav and Lou will be asking things they've no right to ask of their neighbours, with shattering consequences for all of them...
Have you met The People at Number 9? A dark and delicious novel about envy, longing and betrayal in the suburbs...
While my go-to genre choices are usually sci fi and fantasy, I do like to throw in the occasional contemporary/crime/thriller, and I always find myself drawn to authors like Liane Moriarty or Jodi Picoult, who have shades-of-grey characters, a little bit of a mystery, and ethical dilemmas you aren’t quite sure which side to come down on. From the blurb, I was expecting The People at Number 9 to tick some of the same boxes: we’ve got the mystery element (“Soon Gav and Lou will be asking things they’ve no right to ask of their neighbours….”), the implication no one is quite as put-together as they’re making it seem, and of course that mysterious hint on the cover, Whose side are you on?
I found The People at Number 9 an addictive read, and I couldn’t wait to find out what the ‘twist’ would be, what apparently unspeakable things Gav and Lou would be asking of Sara and Neil. My brain came up with all kinds of theories ranging from swinging to murder, and plenty in between but in reality, I found the book to be a huge anti-climax. I genuinely found myself wondering if that could be ‘it’ after I finished. None of the characters are particularly great people, and there is definitely behaviour that crosses the line, but I didn’t really find any of it shocking; they’re just people making pretty standard, predictable, poor choices, the kind of thing you’d shake your head about but mostly probably not something that would cause more than a brief flurry of gossip. Maybe I’m just too cynical!
One thing that really didn’t work for me was the character cast, who are largely very unlikable. I don’t mean that in a they-do-bad-things kind of way (some of my favourite characters are definitely not the heroes!), but that they just didn’t have redeeming qualities. Gav and Lou were like caricatures of people, deliberately made ‘exotic’ for the excitement they’d bring to the neighbourhood, but with very little depth. Sara and Neil had the potential to be good but they seemed to lose any sense of individual personality as soon as Gav and Lou arrived, and their marriage made no sense to me because they were absolutely terrible at communicating or generally acting like partners.
At only 315 pages, this is quite a short book, at least compared to my usual reads, and yet it felt very long at times. It’s definitely a slow-burn read, and I couldn’t put it down, because I was desperate to see what would happen, but in the end it was disappointing, because it felt like such an anticlimax.
Buy it? Not for me.
In a nutshell: A quick and addictive read but ultimately unsatisfying