The Daves Next Door, by Will Carver

Book blurb:

A disillusioned nurse suddenly learns how to care.

An injured young sportsman wakes up find that he can see only in black and white.

A desperate old widower takes too many pills and believes that two angels have arrived to usher him through purgatory.

Two agoraphobic men called Dave share the symptoms of a brain tumour, and frequently waken their neighbour with their ongoing rows.

Separate lives, running in parallel, destined to collide and then explode.

Like the suicide bomber, riding the Circle Line, day after day, waiting for the right time to detonate, waiting for answers to his questions: Am I God? Am I dead? Will I blow up this train?

Shocking, intensely emotive and wildly original, Will Carver’s The Daves Next Door is an explosive existential thriller and a piercing examination of what it means to be human … or not. 

My review:

While this is a book will really appeal to the thoughtful reader who delights in sophistication, intrigue and social commentary, it’s also a cracking good yarn about a confused, procrastinating terrorist and the people who end up in an underground train carriage with him. 

This is the Will Carver I love. Wildly original, cynical, scathing and oh so devious. It’s as if he sets out to deceive, mystify and confuse his readers. Despite probably not getting absolutely all that this author set out to achieve, I could not put this book down. It reminded me of Nothing Important Happened Today, which until now I thought was his best book by far.

I made so many notes when reading The Daves Next Door, and highlighted so many sentences and paragraphs that either resonated with me or were simply  incredibly insightful, authentic and true. Hence this overlong review…

The story is about one terrorist on the underground during an orchestrated terrorist attack throughout London. But it is about so much more. I loved the overriding theme of how seemingly unimportant events can have monumental effects (a butterfly flaps its wings). As Carver himself says: “This is a story about cause and effect. It is about the interconnectivity of everything and everyone on this planet.”  “An event, seemingly meaningless or trivial, sparks something more revealing, until it eventually implodes into chaos or poignant catastrophe.” Which is exactly what happens in The Daves Next Door.

The characters are brilliant. I defy anyone not to love Vashti, or have total admiration, respect and awe for Thomas Davant, who we don’t meet very often, yet plays such a vital role in the story. And the Daves were brilliantly conceived and flawlessly executed. Total genius. I also loved how the narrator (or was he?) checked in with me to see if I was following and to question me about how I was finding the story

As with all Carver’s books, there’s commentary aplenty on the state of the world today, and he cleverly has one character who simply asks questions, which enables him to cover a multitude of topical themes and pressing challenges. There are thus references to everything from issues of identity (blame social media), the existence of God, empathy versus apathy and blinkered millennials who believe they are the centre of the universe.

His characters say things like: “If you let things happen, you’re saying that it’s OK that it happened. If you don’t speak up then you can’t speak out.”  And “When did people stop caring about other people?”

And more cynically: “Why would a God create so many races and diversity and not have them be thoughtful and embracing of one another?”

The author delighted me with his references to his previous books, parallel universes (usually I hate this kind of this, but he does it SO well) and his theme of everything being inexorably linked.

Highly recommended.

About the author:

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series and the critically acclaimed, mind-blowingly original Detective Pace series that includes Good Samaritans (2018), Nothing Important Happened Today (2019) and Hinton Hollow Death Trip (2020), all of which were ebook bestsellers and selected as books of the year in the mainstream international press. Nothing Important Happened Today was longlisted for both the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award 2020 and the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. Hinton Hollow Death Trip was longlisted for Guardian‘s Not the Booker Prize. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his children.


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