Book Review: Do Not Disturb by Claire Douglas

From Claire Douglas, the award-winning author of The Sisters, Local Girl Missing, and Last Seen Alive, Do Not Disturb is a taut psychological thriller in which family secrets and hidden pasts build to a violent climax in a guesthouse among the idyllic Welsh mountains.

Do Not Disturb

Claire Douglas

November 17, 2020

Could your dream home be your worst nightmare? After what happened in London, Kirsty needs a fresh start with her family. And running a guesthouse in the Welsh mountains sounds idyllic. But then their first guest arrives. Selena is the last person Kirsty wants to see. It’s 17 years since she tore everything apart. Why has she chosen now to walk back into Kirsty’s life? Is Selena running from something too? Or is there an even darker reason for her visit? Because Kirsty knows that once you invite trouble into your home, it can be murder getting rid of it…

 ‘Mum? Her head shoots up at the sound of my voice, her eyes wide with anguish and something else—fear. She holds up her hands, as though she’s about to pray. They’re coated with blood.’

Thus begins the latest novel and claustrophobic puzzler from British author Claire Douglas. The action immediately moves from that scene in which the body the mother is standing over is not revealed to two months before. Kirsty Woodhouse has left London behind along with her husband and two young daughters to go and run a bed-and-breakfast at a gothic home they purchased in Wales. She was brought up in Wales and has gone into partnership with her Mum to make this B&B a success.

The primary reason for the departure from London was to heal old wounds. Primarily, that of the attempted suicide of her husband Adrian eighteen months earlier. Adrian is still a bit off and has his serious depression regulated by meds and has been fighting an uphill battle to win back the confidence of his family. Perhaps the change of scenery would be just the thing. After time spent getting the residence up to snuff we find ourselves just six days prior to the incident described in the opening paragraph. It is here where a not so pleasant surprise is played on Kirsty. Her Mum has invited her cousin Selena who Kirsty has not seen in seventeen years. They never got along as children and Selena was always extremely high maintenance.

Read our review of Last Seen Alive by Claire Douglas

Even though Selena seems to have changed a bit she still has brought serious troubles with her. She arrives with her sickly young daughter as she is running away from her allegedly violent husband. Just when Kirsty is ready to accept the new Selena and feel sorry for her another surprise occurs. One of the group of first-time guests at the B&B is Dean, Selena’s ex-boyfriend from their teens. Kirsty is confident it is not a coincidence and Selena admits she has taken up with Dean after she fled her husband.

Kirsty begins to watch Selena carefully and notices some odd behavior like her sneaking out in the middle of the night. There also are the series of dead flowers that appear each day at their doorstep—which Selena swears is the work of her ex. A bit of the supernatural also makes an appearance when one of Kirsty’s daughters turn up a freaky looking doll underneath the floorboards in their room—receiving a nasty cut on her hand in the process. There’s also the tarot card-reading guest, Janice, who claims bad things are on the way to the B&B.

Kirsty’s Mum then announces that her brother Nathan and his family are arriving just in time to celebrate Mum’s birthday. Now, with a houseful of family, friends, and guests we reach the incident that opened the novel. Now, we find that Mum is covered in the blood of the individual she is standing over at the foot of the staircase. It appears the person had a bad fall and appears to be dead. When the apparent accident victim dies on the way the to hospital it quickly turns into a police investigation as well as an Agatha Christie-like murder mystery where there are a slew of potential suspects but no other clues or motives.  Do Not Disturb is a solid mystery/thriller and easily Claire Douglas’ best novel to date and will both intrigue and creep you out simultaneously.

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