Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Do Not Disturb by Claire Douglas – psychological suspense in Wales

Title: Do Not Disturb
Author: Claire Douglas
Publication: Harper Collins, hardcover, 2020
Genre: Suspense
Setting: Present-day Wales
Description: Kirsty Woodhouse and her husband Adrian had always talked about returning to her native Wales to open a guesthouse in the Brecon Beacons, but she accelerated the plan after what happened to Adrian in London. To make it work financially, Kirsty had to ask her critical mother to join them as a partner, which is stressful, and her daughters, Amelia (11) and Evie (6) are upset at leaving their friends. The old rectory near Hywelphilly seems like a bargain but, of course, costs more to renovate than the Woodhouses expect. Kirsty is somewhat hurt that the locals treat her like an English interloper, when she grew up in Cardiff and retains much of her accent, and seem to be rooting for her to fail. And she can't stop worrying about Adrian. But the situation gets much worse when Kirsty’s estranged cousin comes to stay and Evie finds an old doll and starts complaining that her room is haunted. Some of the guests also unnerve Kirsty:
Janice strides to the window and pulls back the curtains to get a better view. It’s started to rain. Over her shoulder I can see the church’s spire and the weather-beaten, ornate tombs jutting out of the ground, many cracked and leaning at odd angles.

“I know it overlooks the graveyard . . . “ I wonder if I should offer her a different room.

She swivels round to face me, her expression serious. “Oh, my dear. I’m not worried about that.” She narrows her eyes. “Believe me, the dead can’t hurt you. It’s only the living who can.”
My Impression: I used to have a coworker whose dream was to have a B&B in Cape May, NJ, a seaside town full of ornate Victorian homes, and while she made me curious to see the town, I never understood the desire to cook and clean for a bunch of strangers who seem all too likely to bring distress and danger in their wake!  After reading Do Not Disturb, my opinion is unchanged as, apart from murder, one of the worst moments for the heroine is when her new guests start posting negative reviews about the new B&B. Imagine going to all the trouble of renovating a building, investing all your savings and your mother’s, getting up early to make breakfast for these strangers, only for them to trash you online!
I like the UK cover better
The book begins with Kirsty hearing screams in the middle of the night and finding her mother over a dead body. The story is then told in two parts, a flashback to how they got to that fatal night, including the reason they left London abruptly, and what happened next. The author does a good job of building the suspense and sense of place, then providing enough red herrings that it is very difficult to guess who is telling the truth and who has malevolent intent. Or both!
I read this novel of psychological suspense for the Wales Readathon sponsored by Paula at Book Jotter and it is also my sixth book for the Cloak and Dagger Challenge hosted by Carol's Notebook.  
Source: Library


TracyK said...

The setting in Wales is appealing, and the bed and breakfast. But not the psychological tension. Like you, I don't see the appeal of running a business where you cook and clean for visitors.

Lark said...

I don't have the temperament to run a bed & breakfast; I just can't be that nice 24/7. ;D This book does sound like a good one.

Katrina said...

I have a friend who had a B&B for a number of years, it sounded like a nightmare. Guests demanding bottles of champagne at 2 am and leaving sh*t on the towels! You also never get away from it. I don't even like being a B&B guest as I'm not great at having to communicate with strangers early in the morning - or anytime really.

Cath said...

Hmm... now isn't this rather an appropriate book for what we've been discussing? Before we moved here to Devon, just after my husband retired, we were considering moving back to my home county of Cornwall and doing B&B. For one reason or another it didn't come to fruition and I'm very glad because my heart was never really into sharing my house with complete strangers, cleaning up after them, cooking breakfasts and so on. Personality-wise we could both do it so that's not the problem but you are really on duty 24/7 so relaxing it is not. We don't even stay at B&Bs any more. I'm quite a friendly person but even I revolt against coming down to breakfast and more often than not having to hold conversations with the owners as I eat. Peter and I are the sort that people tell their life histories to and we've heard it 'all' over breakfast at one time or another. We do hotels or self-catering houses these days to hold on to our sanity. LOL

Paula Bardell-Hedley said...

Great stuff, Constance. Many thanks! 😀

CLM said...

The forced cheerfulness is almost as dire a thought as the cooking and cleaning! Especially first thing in the morning!

I think anyone planning to operate a B&B should spend a month in high season trying it out at someone else's (I bet many would be grateful for a rest) so they know what they are getting into. Cath, I imagined you always in Devon (what is the difference between Devon and Devonshire?)!

I also prefer to stay somewhere more anonymous but I do like places that provide breakfast, even if it is just tea and a muffin or croissant. It is sometimes hard to know the difference (if any) between a B&B, guest house, lodge, etc. I think a self-catering cottage would be nice if one had a car and a lengthy visit planned; otherwise, too much of a nuisance to go shopping.

Cath said...

Devon and Devonshire are the same thing, Constance. 'Devonshire' is just a bit more 'Jane Austen', it's not used much these days, but I'm not sure when it fell out of fashion. Strange because 'Shropshire' has not turned into 'Shrop', 'Lancashire' is not now known as 'Lanca'... LOL... but Devon has pretty much lost its 'shire'. Very odd.

No, I haven't always lived in Devon. I was born and brought up in Penzance in Cornwall. When I got married we moved to Bristol with my husband's job (he was in banking). From there we moved to Newton Abbot in Devon, then to Barnstaple in North Devon, after that it was eight years in Minehead in Somerset and from there down here to Tiverton, again in Devon. We've been here, retired, since 2002, the longest we've ever lived anywhere. The thing I would say is that I have lived longer in the county of Devon than I have anywhere else.

Yes, absolutely. We watch a few of these property shows with people escaping to the country and the number who want to do B&B but have never been in one is legion. B&Bs and guest houses are pretty much the same thing. Unless you're going to hire a cottage/bungalow in a town or village with a good bus service then you do need a car. And yes, shopping would be an issue too. We tend to take some food with us when we're doing self-catering, at the very least a meal for the first evening so we can crash out after the journey. I like the freedom of self-catering, you can eat when you like and what you like and if the weather's bad you have more of a base than your hotel room. My husband prefers hotels, he likes to be pampered.

Judy Krueger said...

As I have recently read Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman, I am drawn to a modern look at Wales.

Lex @ Lexlingua said...

"...getting up early to make breakfast for these strangers, only for them to trash you online!" Ack, this is something I hardly thought of before. I have stayed at a few inns, and it's true I have left a few online reviews explaining the pros and cons. But I hope I was objective/ fair in my reviews, and didn't "trash" them!
And you're right, the UK cover looks better.

Gretchen said...

Great review! Maybe I will stick with camping in the great outdoors :)