cover image The Downstairs Neighbor

The Downstairs Neighbor

Helen Cooper. Putnam, $17 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-0-593-19038-8

At the outset of Cooper’s heart-pounding debut, 17-year-old Freya Harlow fails to return home to her parents’ Kingston, England, apartment. When the police ask Freya’s parents, Paul and Steph, if they have any enemies who might want to harm Freya, each has a secret unbeknownst to the other, and each believes theirs holds the key to their daughter’s disappearance. While Paul unearths painful memories of his past undercover police work, Steph often travels to a nearby town, and begs their downstairs neighbor, Emma Brighton, not to tell anyone about her whereabouts. Meanwhile, Emma’s apartment is vandalized, and the police repeatedly question Freya’s driving instructor, who lives below Emma, since he was the last person to see Freya. A second plot, set 25 years earlier, involves a teenage girl who suspects her mother’s boyfriend is abusive and dangerous. Readers will enjoy trying to figure out how the two story lines are connected. Even avid suspense readers won’t be able to predict all the twists. Cooper is off to a strong start. Agent: Hellie Ogden, Janklow & Nesbit (U.K.). (Feb.)