They say everybody needs good neighbours…
My character Hester in THE WOMAN NEXT DOOR thinks she is the perfect example of neighbourly friendship. After all, who wouldn’t want to live next door to someone like her, a woman prepared to give up everything in your darkest hour? And Hester really is prepared to go that extra mile.
But sometimes, as her neighbour Melissa discovers, this kind of assistance comes at a price.
Dodgy neighbours are something most of us have experienced at one time or another. Mine have included the menacing couple who yelled at us for walking around on our floor ‘inconsiderately’, to the man whose frenzied screaming at his wife and kids had me itching to call 999 on several occasions. We never really know what we’re walking into when we move into a new property. Thankfully, I’ve never lived next door to anyone quite like Hester. Or, in fact, Melissa…
So in celebration of all the monsters who might be living next door, here are the books and movies featuring my all-time favourite fictional neighbours.
A KIND OF INTIMACY by Jenn Ashworth
Lonely, odd Annie, with her self-help books and cow-shaped milk jugs, is a deliciously twisted character and I devoured this book in one sitting. If you like Hester, you’ll definitely take to Annie.
THE KILLER NEXT DOOR by Alex Marwood
Stephen King called this ‘scary as hell’ and he’s right. But the incredible thing about this story of murderous dealings at 23 Beulah Grove is that somehow it manages to be grimly funny too. It’s something I was hoping to pull off in my own way in THE WOMAN NEXT DOOR.
THE MAGPIES by Mark Edwards
I listened to this on audiobook and was riveted by the story of Jamie and Kirsty, a young couple who are full of optimism as they move into their new flat. The future looks bright, but then they star receiving prank ‘gifts’ and calls and things turn very dark indeed.
I’m a huge fan of actor Michael Keaton and this movie, set in the exclusive, eponymous area of San Francisco is a quiet gem. He plays a psychopath called Carter Hayes who moves into the basement of a house a couple are renovating without their permission and won’t move out. It never descends into schlocky violence and retains a pervading sense of menace throughout.
This has to be the ultimate ‘neighbours from hell’ story. I first saw this movie at a rather tender age and it utterly terrified me (Thanks for the lax 1970s parenting, Mum and Dad!). Remember when the Mia Farrow character eats the raw liver? And when she’s given the creepy necklace with the funny smell? The shadowy cinematography gives this film the feel of a genuine nightmare and Polanski’s 1968 movie is a horror classic.
What a deliciously nightmarish collection. So next time your neighbour parks ‘in your spot’ or puts the bins back in an annoying way, be grateful you don’t live next door to this lot.
Or indeed, Hester.
But then … you never really know. Do you?
Cass Green is the pseudonym of Caroline Green, an award-winning author of fiction for young people. Her first novel, Dark Ride, won the Rona Young Adult Book of the Year and the Waverton Good Read Award. Cracks and Hold Your Breath garnered rave reviews and were shortlisted for eleven awards between them. She is the Writer in Residence at East Barnet School and teaches Writing for Children at City University. Caroline has been a journalist for over twenty years and has written for many broadsheet newspapers and glossy magazines. The Woman Next Door is her first novel for adults.