Excerpt: Those People - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

From the author of the international best seller Our House, a new novel of twisty domestic suspense asks, “Could you hate your neighbor enough to plot to kill him?” 

Lowland Way is the suburban dream. The houses are beautiful, the neighbors get along, and the kids play together on weekends.

But when Darren and Jodie move into the house on the corner, they donʼt follow the rules. They blast music at all hours, begin an unsightly renovation, and run a used-car business from their yard. It doesn’t take long for an all-out war to start brewing.

Then, early one Saturday, a horrific death shocks the street. As police search for witnesses, accusations start flying – and everyone has something to hide.

Book Type:

Psychological Suspense

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Excerpt: Those People
By Louise Candlish

Excerpt: Those People

The author of one of my favorites from last year, OUR HOUSE, is back with a new domestic thriller, THOSE PEOPLE. This is a story of how a neigborhood upends after a couple moves in that doesn’t fit the mold. They don’t seem to care about anything, they blast loud music, and their yard is an unsightly mess… but then someone is killed and everyone is hiding something.

Read an excerpt below…

SISSY

No, I’m really not sure I’m up to this. . . . But if it’s just one or two questions . . .

Yes, I was at home this morning. I was upstairs in one of the bed­ rooms at the back when I heard the noise outside. I thought maybe it was a lorry delivering gravel across the road. So I went to the bedroom at the front to check. . . .

Sorry. Please, just give me a minute.

No, it’s fine. I can carry on. The setup over there? Well, it was a building site, an amateur one, completely unsafe, with cars everywhere, doors and hoods open- he’d leave them with the engines running while he went inside. It was an accident waiting to happen and now it’s happened.

No, I didn’t get on with him before this. I know some of the other neighbors saw him as just selfish, oblivious, and maybe I did as well at first. But I soon realized.

That he was plain nasty. A bad person.

MS. SISSY WATKINS , 2 LOWLAND WAY,
INQUIRIES BY THE METROPOLITAN POLICE, AUGUST 11, 2018

Five weeks earlier

You have a new customer review on CitytoSuburb!

The alert came with the sort of urgency that used to be reserved for surgeons on call but now meant someone of no importance had made a passing remark about someone else of no importance with no thought whatsoever as to the consequences. Sissy had read in the Telegraph how Silicon Valley designed everything with scores and notifications to keep you hooked on dopamine; they were latter-day Pablo Escobars. She’d seen a television drama about a community in which the services available to you were dictated by your popularity: your own opinion of yourself was irrelevant; it was only other people’s that counted. Terrifying! (It was set in the “near future,” whenever that was.)

She duly logged in to the CitytoSuburb members area. Ratings were out of five like on Amazon, except it used little window-box icons, not stars. This one was her first-ever two:

Beautiful old property in Lowland Gardens. Lovely host, huge room, delicious breakfast. Why the two-star rating, then? The problem was that the neighbor across the road got up at the crack of dawn and was revving engines in his drive. It sounded like a Hells Angels rally. Talk about a rude awakening-on a Sunday! And he pulled out of his drive so dangerously when we were leaving, we felt lucky to escape with our lives! There were children playing a few feet away! So with the best will in the world, we just can’t recommend others stay here. Sorry.

-Harry and Elaine Cogan, near Plymouth, Devon

Sissy could only sigh. Every word was true.

The incident had occurred the previous weekend. What with the constant and unfathomable reordering of cars between driveway, garden scrubland and street, it was inevitable that Play Out Sunday would be a sticking point with Darren Booth, and so it transpired. Her guests were leaving after a late breakfast and, Lowland Way being closed to traffic, Sissy accompanied them to the corner of Portsmouth Avenue to wait for their taxi. There were four cars in the street: two outside number 1, one in front of Ralph and Naomi’s and one outside Sissy’s, almost certainly all Booth’s. As they crossed, he was standing at the bottom of his drive with a car key in his hand-about to start moving the vehicles, she assumed (how naive she was!).

“Oh, look at the little ones,” the Cogans exclaimed, as Sissy called hello to Naomi and the other parents out with their kids. Even though the whole point of the exercise was that the street had been cleared of potential hazards, parents would hover at their gates because, well, you never knew when a pedophile was going to stroll by and take his pick, did you? J couldn’t live with myself if anything happened, the mums would say, hypervigilance legitimized into a sort of catchphrase. They made parenting sound so superstitious, Sissy thought. Almost medieval.

Pedophiles had not really been a thing when her son, Pete, was a boy, at least not that she could remember.

To give Booth the benefit of the doubt (again, naive), she thought he might not have read the notices Naomi and Tess distributed every Saturday afternoon and that Sissy knew by heart:

Dear Grown-up,

Thank you for moving your car off the street in good time for Play Out Sunday. This small favor has big benefits for all of us!

Love from the children of Lowland Way x

A cute hand-drawn font had been used and at the top of the flyer there was an endorsement from no less than the London mayor himself

“I haven’t seen kids playing hopscotch for years,” Mrs. Cogan said. “Yes, they’re free to draw on the road in chalk,” Sissy told her. She had grown used to praising the same activities that had been completely unremarkable in her own childhood as exceptional, because, without fail, her guests were charmed by them and tended to go on to mention them in their reviews.

She was dismayed to see that Booth was now at the wheel of one of the cars on his drive: Surely he wasn’t moving another into the street? That really would be bloody-minded. The sudden roar of revving caused nearby children to startle and shift away. Under the wipers, the Morgans’ flyer flapped unread.

“Just hang on a moment,” she told the Cogans, emboldened by their presence, their respectable expectations. She stepped onto Booth’s drive and peered at him through the half-open car window. Though he did not lower it fully or turn off the engine, he did acknowledge her, which was more than he’d done on any previous occasion. Then again, at her age she found it was a common experience to be regarded on unequal terms. The fact that Booth was probably only a few years younger than her was by the by: all signs pointed to his being the kind of chauvinist who considered a woman with gray hair and a comfort­ able bra unworthy of attention.

“Did you not see the note on your cars about Play Out Sunday?” She took the liberty of fishing the flyer from under the wiper and thrusting it through the window to him.

“Huh?”

When he didn’t take it, she let it drop onto his lap. “Have you not noticed these last few weekends? It looks like you haven’t got room to squeeze them all on your drive, but there are plenty of spaces on Portsmouth Avenue.”

His head still angled toward her, Booth’s gaze hardened. ‘”I’ve already said, they’re staying where they are.”

Already said: he must have been approached by other neighbors and opted not to comply. Had Naomi tried? If she couldn’t persuade him, no one could.

“I see. Well, thank you.” For nothing. What an unpleasant character he was, she thought. Jean would be turning in her grave to see this craven lack of community spirit. Sissy had known Jean as well as any­ one on the street, and while having been aware of a nephew living in South London, she could not recall a single reference to any familial act on his part. Perhaps Jean had thought he’d sell the place without setting foot in it, imagined another couple like the Kendalls moving in-the poor Kendalls, as Sissy thought of them now. Instead, according to Tess, these people had judged the premises perfect for their car business and moved in themselves.

Excerpted from THOSE PEOPLE by Louise Candlish, published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2019 by Louise Candlish.

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