Lives Thrown Together
Anyone hungering for a thriller that doesn’t tick the usual boxes of ‘who done it’ style mystery but instead wants a book that feels horribly close to reality should pick up The Man on the Middle Floor by Elizabeth S Moore
Review by Louise Gillespie
Three people, two murders, one house; that’s the premise of The Man on The Middle Floor, a crime novel that stays with you long after you put it down. Elizabeth S Moore’s debut novel follows the lives of three people in a building in London, each with their own stories, their own demons, their own problems: to sum up, three characters each with relatable traits. Like many of us today, the three characters live in separate flats within one building and yet they are virtually complete strangers until their lives become inextricably connected following a murder. As their lives are thrown together, the complexities of the story unfold highlighting not only how isolating society can be but also how unprepared it is to offer support to those who are mentally and emotionally vulnerable.
With an autistic protagonist, The Man on The Middle Floor is a refreshing attack on the senses undoubtedly designed to make readers feel uncomfortable and that’s what makes it such a page turner. You love the characters and hate them in equal measure: there is no squeaky-clean hero, there is no true villain, there is no murder mystery, instead The Man on The Middle Floor turns the traditional crime genre on its head. Moore brings to life three very complex characters whose world’s collide in unexpected ways. Sometimes the characters seem almost implausible, that is until you step back and realise, most alarmingly, that you know someone who bears at least some resemblance to them. The Man on The Middle Floor will certainly make you question the direction that society is heading, from the perspective of family breakdowns, mental health, abuse, digital disconnect and so much more.
Who should read it?
Anyone hungering for a thriller that doesn’t tick the usual boxes of ‘who done it’ style mystery but instead wants a book that feels horribly close to reality and yet impossibly farfetched in its level of drama. The Man on The Middle Floor addresses issues of societal disconnect in the digital age and raises the question of what we are doing to support each other in our communities, especially those who are the most vulnerable.
The way it’s written?
Moore does something interesting and unexpected in the first few chapters of the book (don’t worry I’m not giving the plot away) she plays out a murder and the reader knows exactly who has done it. A thriller without a mystery? It works and it works very well.
The story is told by the three main characters, Tam, Nick and Karen and each has a very clear voice which adds to the momentum of the story and really brings the characters to life. From Nick’s regimented life and rules, to Karen’s intellectual chaos and Tam’s detective senses blurred by alcohol, The Man on The Middle Floor flows easily between the voices and personas of the characters, ironically creating a familiarity with them that is at complete odds with their dysfunctional connections in the book.
The Man on The Middle Floor addresses so many issues that have played out across the front pages of the national press in the past few weeks, it’s a marvel that the book isn’t 10,000 pages long. Despite having an autistic protagonist, the book in no way feels like a lecture on mental health or an attempt to echo the humour of ‘Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night Time,’ instead it removes the sugar coating that Moore argues we have come to expect from not just our press but our fiction writers. The Man on The Middle Floor packs a punch every chapter and leaves readers sympathising with each character, an impressive feat when one of them is a murderer.
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