"The Devil Upstairs" by Anthony O’Neill is an entertaining read and one that, once begun, is hard to put down. The story surrounds Cat Thomas, an American fraud case handler who leaves her native Miami for a new life in Edinburgh. She comes with glowing references from her employer, ABC Bank, to take up a similar position in their Edinburgh headquarters.
Cat is a meticulous planner and sets about organizing her move with an almost military precision. Two short visits later, she is packed and ready to move into a home she has bought in Edinburgh’s Dean Village. And everything goes swimmingly for a few short weeks. She loves her new home, gets to know the area and local facilities and settles into work, immediately bonding with Agnes, her co-worker, though the pair are the exact opposites. Cat is measured and thoughtful, Agnes, a Goth, is disorganised and outspoken. Then Dylan Moyle returns, her upstairs neighbour. He is loud, inconsiderate and a heavy metal musician. He is a night owl to Cat’s early riser. Things go downhill fast and Cat becomes desperate. The lack of sleep is affecting her work and she starts to imagine all the things she wants to do to silence Moyle. Matters come to a head when he hosts a party.
Agnes suggests a solution. She has spoken to a group of friends who might be able to help. Cat is invited along to meet them and at this point her life takes on a surreal quality. Dylan Moyle ends up dead in his flat, but the Police have no clues as to the perpetrator. For a time, Cat’s life does return to something like normality and for that, she is grateful. Her spark for her new life is rekindled. Then new neighbour, Robin Boucher, moves in. He is quiet and thoughtful, and Cat is enthralled. Maybe this is someone who can thaw her cold heart.
"The Devil Upstairs" is a fun read. Whilst having a dark and sinister quality, the reader gets drawn into the many strands running through the book. We learn a lot about Cat’s working life and relationships and the ends she is prepared to go to in order to solve her cases. We get an insight into her relationships with others and her character. We get her back story. Edinburgh figures large in the book and the descriptions of her movement around the city give a detailed pen picture of what its really like to live there. In the end, we get to experience her enlightenment as the things that happen to her lead her to a life affirming conclusion. To find out the rest, you are going to have to read "The Devil Upstairs" yourself.