Review published on February 10, 2018.
This book centres on three key characters all living in the same house in London. They are Tam, an ex-cop, young Nick, who has Asperger’s, and Karen, a researcher who has spent her life studying autism.
Tam likes a whisky or three, Nick’s life is run by schedules and structure, and Karen’s a workaholic who neglects not only herself but her children who would rather live with their father. They all live their lives separately and are only passing acquaintances in the hallway until an unsolved murder brings them all together.
Described as part Lionel Shriver, part Mark Haddon, this book was bound to grab my attention. Mark Haddon is one of my favourite authors and the word ‘controversial’ on the front of this cover intrigued me. This book boasts it will get people talking. And my goodness it delivers!
So, did I love it? Well, yes. The three characters are totally flawed, all of them. One’s a drinker, one is totally ruled by his routine and one just fixates on her job every minute of every day. How do they all connect with one another, apart from all sharing the same house?
Told from three separate points of view, this is an engaging read. Nick’s chapters are told in the first person, so I feel as if I knew him ‘best’. The author cleverly tells us of his strange rituals and thoughts and actions which, at times, are quite disturbing. From the outset this book is something out of the ordinary and it’s refreshing to read something that isn’t run of the mill. There are brave topics tackled and it would be easy to dislike one, or all, of the characters. But somehow you don’t.
I liked the writing. It’s an easy read, even if sometimes the subject matter is somewhat distasteful. I enjoyed the way it deals with different aspects of relationships – sexual, emotional and familial yet questions all of them. The theme of autism and Asperger’s runs throughout and is cleverly woven into more than one storyline.
I can only liken it to a film I saw nearly 20 years ago. It had won awards and yet dealt with a very difficult and taboo subject. People gasped in the audience with shock. Five separate people walked out. I watched the film again recently. I had exactly the same feeling throughout as I had previously all those years ago as a much younger person. Somehow in this book we are onlookers, peeking into the windows of three very interesting characters that are unpredictable and it’s a little frightening. But yet we stay.
Would I recommend The Man on the Middle Floor? If you like strange and quirky then absolutely. You won’t want it to end. I absolutely loved it.
This is a debut novel and I cannot wait to read more by this author. Bravo!
Kirsty MacKenzie 5/5
The Man on the Middle Floor by Elizabeth S. Moore
RedDoor Publishing Ltd 9781910453544 pbk Apr 2018