A typical street in Edinburgh...

Stephen and Caroline Day are an active young couple until the neighbours from hell move into the flat above. Suddenly every day becomes a living nightmare and they're shocked from sleep every night.

After weeks of police inactivity, Stephen snaps and takes increasingly inventive and extreme revenge on his tormentors. But there are horrifying unforeseen consequences...

Noise Abatement is a thriller that's impossible to put down.

"Carol Anne Davis is Scotland's leading woman of suspense. Discover her now."

- The Times

Noise Abatement is the most autobiographical of my books so far. Anyone who has had their life devastated by anti-social neighbours (in my case, educated youths from affluent backgrounds) will identify. The constant cacophony from their flat eventually made me ill but they were completely indifferent.

I lay awake for night after night wanting to kill them, to literally make the noise abate, but settled for moving house then maiming and killing them off in print.

Building society surveys show that noisy neighbours are the predicament people most dread when buying a house. And newspaper reports show that, like Stephen in Noise Abatement, the sleep-deprived sometimes take murderous revenge...

- Carol Anne Davis

Hardback published 2000 by the Do Not Press. ISBN  1-899344-65-9    Priced  £15.00
Paperback published 2000 by the Do Not Press. ISBN  1-899344-64-0    Priced  £7.50


Spanish readers can read Sonidos de muerte a Spanish translation of Noise Abatement published by Ellago Ediciones in September 2002 in their Colección Disparos imprint.
Translation by Angels Gimeno-Balonwu. ISBN 84-95881-13-6


Noise Abatement Reviews

Noise... A nightmare if you have to put up with it. Stephen, a struggling dentist and Caroline, a budding aromatherapist, are two very ordinary people who are trapped in their flat by the 'decibel despots' who live in the apartment above them.

Moving to escape the incessant cacophony of sounds that emanate from the 'odd bunch' upstairs becomes less of an option as they realise that the value of their property is reducing rapidly as prospective purchasers get a taste of what's to come. Nearing breaking point, Stephen and Caroline step over the edge as they seek a way out of their misery.

In Noise Abatement Carol Anne Davis explores their options and takes the reader into the darkest realms of human behaviour and what happens when Joe Public can't take any more?

Carol Anne Davis is a Scot who has regularly contributed to adult and horror magazines. She has written several books and anthologies including Shrouded and Safe As Houses (published by the Do Not Press.) Her latest book is Women Who Kill (published by Allison & Busby), a well researched work that looks at the rare phenomena of female serial killers.

Peter Lewis, Insider magazine, Vol 3 No 5

'Everyone's had trouble with a noisy neighbour at some point, but Stephen and Caroline Day's difficulties go beyond the occasional loud gathering. The Days' Edinburgh flat is directly below a group of twenty-somethings whose schedules permit them to be home often and up late, and whose disposition is to be loud. Very loud.

Caroline runs a home business as a massage therapist, but her customers are trickling away and she can't blame them. After all, how relaxing is a massage that's accompanied by scuffles, yells, and a cranked bass? And Stephen, who's a dentist, finds that his skills are suffering due to sleep deprivation. With the noise over them eating away at their livelihoods and health, Caroline and Stephen try every possible avenue for legal redress, but to no avail.

Inevitably, Stephen begins to wonder whether there might not be some other way to end their difficulties. If their neighbours--or even one of them--became ill or died, then perhaps things would quiet down, and Stephen and Caroline could reclaim control of their lives and salvage their marriage....

And so Carol Anne Davis leads her characters (and readers), step by step, down a path of fear and aggression and guilt and recriminations. Perhaps the most compelling aspect of the book lies in Stephen and Caroline themselves. It's not always easy to sympathize with them--frankly, I found Stephen's aggression easier to take than Caroline's growing passivity--but then again, this book has a lot less to do with good and bad than with the sort of stress that can drive anyone over the edge. And the climax is beautifully written; you can see the characters' actions setting up a total disaster, but you're powerless to stop it, no matter how much advice you yell to the characters.

NOISE ABATEMENT is a tight and compelling book that I recommend highly for fans of noir, the "new wave" of British crime fiction, suspense, or (for that matter) all of the above.'

Victoria Esposito-Shea, HandHeldCrime.com

Middle-Class Vengeance

'Davis's third Edinburgh-set novel (preceded by Safe As Houses, which I haven't read, and Shrouded, which I have), is a quick-reading exploration of middle-class vengeance. The story of a happy young married couple tormented by the nonstop noisiness of their new upstairs neighbours was apparently inspired by the author's own awful experience and other similar cases in the UK. Davis straightforwardly sets up the situation, as the couple tries to first amicably deal with their thoughtless neighbours, then has to pursue the matter through "proper" channels (the police, the Environmental Health authorities), only to realize that the system is totally unable to handle such a matter. As the loud music, parties, and indoor football antics continue, the wife develops a debilitating stress-related ailment while her dentist husband grows too tired to operate properly.

The husband starts to fantasize about taking the law into his own hands, and of course, does in escalating fashion. Although the storyline is somewhat predictable, and the twist at the end is far too obvious, the book is sustained by the ease with which the reader is able to imagine themselves in the couple's shoes. Davis's world is both everyday and unnerving. A similar "what would you do" scenario was presented in the 1990 film, Pacific Heights, in which a young upscale couple finds it impossible to evict the psycho basement tenant who torments them.'

Amazon.com customer review by T. Ross, Jan 2002

'Noise Abatement is an intriguing rogue of a book. An everyday problem of noisy neighbours escalates into a disturbing tale of murder and fatal loss. Stephen and Caroline Day are a middle-class professional couple living in a comfortable flat in Edinburgh. Their quality of life is slowly being destroyed by the neighbours from hell who live above them. As the increasing stress gnaws at their nerve ends the legal avenues of resolving the situation are gradually closed until Stephen takes matters into his own hands with dire consequences.

This is a truly disturbing read, which will strike a discordant note with anyone who has found themselves in similar circumstances. Davis displays a great talent for twisting an everyday problem into heightened volatile tension, evoking unease in the reader and provoking a black climactic twist.'

Crime Factory, Issue 4, 2001

'Noise.

Unremitting, constant.

You can't sleep. You can't eat. Your marriage and sex life begin to suffer. Your home becomes a prison. The silent periods are torture. Your health deteriorates.

What would you do?

This is the real life horror subject of Carol Anne Davis' latest dark chiller NOISE ABATEMENT. A quite happily married couple live in a nice flat in Edinburgh. He is a dentist and she a self-employed aromatherapist who works from home.

Their lives begin to be terrorised by a group of spoilt twenty-somethings who live in the flat above. Constant pounding music and parties, sometimes lasting all day and night are just a minor irritant. The bare wood floors amplify the furniture dragging and heavy footfalls. There is no peace.

The police and the Environment Agency are powerless. The noisy neighbours laugh in the face of the couple.

What do you do when the world won't help you? You have to help yourself. Carol Anne Davis explores the effects and response of the couple tortured by the intrusion in their lives. The dentist Stephen is pushed to the limit in terms of anger and plotted revenge. In the opening scenes he pushes one of the neighbours down a flight of steps. Meanwhile Caroline his wife suffers healthwise.

NOISE ABATEMENT is perhaps more scary than any conjured supernatural threat or any crazed serial killer stalking the streets. Davis as with her previous novels SHROUDED and SAFE AS HOUSES leads the reader deep into the mind of her lead characters. The realistic weaknesses of both are on full display and it makes for a fascinating, if disturbing read.

The good thing about Davis' work is that you never quite know where she is going to go next. This makes NOISE ABATEMENT a compelling book right through to its chilling conclusion.'

Andy Fairclough, Horror World, October 2001

'Carol Anne Davis' first two novels, Shrouded and Safe As Houses, were linked by closely related themes; a male protagonist driven to sexual violence by childhood trauma (the necrophiliac Douglas in Shrouded and the sadistic David in Safe As Houses) and a female protagonist who moves from low self-esteem and dependency on others to the beginnings of autonomy. There's a fine line between having recurring themes and being a one-trick pony, but Davis' third novel, Noise Abatement, proves her to be anything but the latter.

The characters, Stephen and Caroline Day, live happily in their Edinburgh flat; Stephen runs a successful dental practice, and Caroline works from home as an aromatherapist. When a trio of young students occupy the flat above, however, their lives rapidly descend into nightmare. Deafening music can erupt at any time, wrecking their sleep and making Caroline's work impossible. Events conspire to drive them to the breaking point while trapping them in the flat. Work and health - Caroline's in particular - begin to suffer, and nothing they say or do seems to make the slightest impression on their tormentors. Driven beyond all endurance, Stephen takes matters into his own hands. But the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft aglae, as the saying goes, and Stephen's actions result in tragedy…

Noise Abatement is Davis' most autobiographical book, based heavily on experiences of her own with neighbours from hell. Playing loud music? You wouldn't think that was so bad, would you? You will by the time you've read this. The sheer indifference of the three youths to the suffering they cause is only too believable; some of us may even find ourselves to have been guilty of such unthinking cruelty. It's hard not to feel some - in fact, a lot - of sympathy for Stephen's actions. His journey through the book is the polar opposite of the upward climbs achieved by Marjorie in Shrouded or Jeanette in Safe As Houses - a slide from a pretty normal life into the kind of behaviour none of us would like to think ourselves capable of… but that we all, if we're honest, know ourselves to be. Noise Abatement is an unequivocally belting book, with an ending that will break your heart; Davis' blackest, most emotionally powerful, and best to date. British crime fiction has a new queen (albeit, I suspect, an anti-royalist one) who can chew up the likes of Minette Walters with both hands tied behind her back and all her teeth pulled, and spit them out again. Long may she reign.'

Simon Bestwick, Terror Tales, July 2001

'Ever had noisy neighbours? I don't mean the kind that have the occasional flaming row, the kids who scream sometimes or a party once a year. I mean really noisy neighbours. The kind who blast music at all hours of the night and day, the kind who invade your space constantly with their noise. As a kid a family moved into the flat below us and proceeded to subject the entire block to dub reggae at full bone-crunching volume for days on end. Complaints were brushed aside, they were going to enjoy their music and that's all that mattered. In the end it drove my mum to a valium addiction which lasted for years, and which meant, finally that the council moved us to a different estate because it was easier than getting the noise turned down.

The characters in Noise Abatement don't have a council to re-house them. When they're faced with noisy neighbours they quickly discover the life-shattering reality of living in a speaker cabinet. It's not fun, no matter how much you like music. And, faced with the barrage they resort to their own means of achieving silence.

Unlike much crime/suspense fiction, this is a novel that's firmly rooted in reality. There's nothing glamorous or unusual about the protagonists, just small-time folk who want to get on with their lives. That they are propelled into increasingly extreme acts is a result of circumstances and not anything else. Carol Anne Davis writes with an ability to really get to grips with her characters. The story is well-researched, there's no doubt in my mind that she's lived with noisy neighbours herself.

The results are tragic, to say the least. The end is predictable but gripping, you keep hoping against hope that things don't turn out the way they will.

Recommended.'

Pan, Black Star book reviews web site, June 2001

'There is something very disturbing about Carol Anne Davis' book. This is suburbia. Bad things should not happen here but they do, even in Edinburgh's most ordinary streets. Stephen and Caroline Day are very ordinary people with ordinary lives and an ordinary flat until their neighbours move in and subject them to the torment of noise. The constant music and running feet, dripping water and loud friends turn their peaceful nights into sleepless ones.

And this could be a very ordinary book - without Carol Anne Davis' writing. The pace is perfect; it reflects the build up of tension suffered by the young couple who even try to sell their house to escape the nightmare of unrealised abuse. Their neighbours are too selfish to listen: until one of them makes a potentially fatal mistake and walks in front of Stephen at the top of a dangerously steep flight of steps in the city. One death later and Stephen snaps whilst Caroline's health and business are breaking down. Another death and then the most fateful night of all, teaching us all that even a small lie can prove fatal. This is inspired and terrifying reading from one of the darkest new voices of British noir who shows that even the most ordinary people can become killers - with the right incentive.'

Fiona Shoop, Shots Vol 3 No 9, Spring 2001

'Stephen and Caroline Day are a successful professional couple with a solid marriage and a great sex life - until a bunch of recently-graduated lads move into the flat upstairs. Music starts blasting out at all hours of the night and day, the lads start holding all-night parties and gradually, the Days' idyllic lifestyle falls apart as the newcomers refuse to turn the volume down. The police can do very little about the situation, the environmental health department is too stretched to be much use and eventually, Stephen decides there's only one answer, taking steps to silence his neighbours - permanently...

Carol Anne Davis' Noise Abatement is a gruesomely inventive little tale about the havoc that can be wreaked by noisy neighbours. It loads our sympathies hugely in favour of the beleaguered Days and doesn't really give the point of view of the bloke who owns the massive sound system, so we never know whether he's just insensitive or genuinely malicious, but this twisted tale will strike a chord with anyone who's had the misfortune to be kept awake by someone else's stereo...'

For Women magazine, Vol 9 No 5

'For those who like their mysteries bleak, black, and bizarre, Davis is a wonderful discovery. This Scottish author isn't well known in the U.S., but in Britain, she's the Queen of Noir. Her latest is a dark tale filled with ominous irony and a palpable sense of foreboding. Caroline and Stephen Day are a normal young couple, happy and in love. But their lives become a nightmare when new neighbours move in upstairs. The sounds of deafening rock music, ear-splitting screams, violent brawls, and wild parties make the couple's lives sheer hell. The local authorities can't or won't help, so after agonizing months of sleepless nights and shattered nerves, Stephen takes matters into his own hands by pushing one of the noisemakers down the stairs as a "warning." When this fails to have any effect, Stephen dreams up increasingly violent ways to stop his tormentors. Davis produces a taut, suspenseful story whose most notable feature is the ghastly inevitability of its outcome. An outstanding thriller.'

Emily Melton, Booklist, The American Library Association Journal

'Stephen and Caroline Day's world begins to fall apart when new neighbours move into the flat above. The Marchmont tenement becomes a place they do not want to be when the neighbours turn out to be from hell, the noisiest kind. Continuous loud music, banging on the floor above them, louting on the scaffolding outside with lager, Caroline's health soon deteriorates. Stephen starts a revenge campaign which results in the death of an innocent little boy.

Carol Anne Davis description of the feelings, medical and mental problems faced by the quiet victim is bang on accurate. Anyone who has been in this situation in the past will relate to it, so much so it is guaranteed to knot your stomach. An excellent, must read.'

Denise Scott, South Edinburgh Echo, 25th January 2001

'Oozing, slimy, mutant monsters don't scare me anymore. It's the human monsters among us that keep me constantly wary. These hidden killers are the actual horror that lashes out every day -- and Carol Anne Davis knows it. No wonder hers is among the most terrifying fiction in existence; it could just as easily be true. And that ought to scare the hell out of anyone.

In a block of flats in a residential area of Edinburgh, rage is simmering and it's about to erupt in savagery that will stun the nation. Downstairs, Stephen and Caroline Day want only to go about their everyday lives. Upstairs, three young men appear intent on thwarting the Days at every turn. To be more precise, the neighbours above are creating a little hell on earth. It's torture without provocation. And it's getting more agonizing by the minute.

The Days are trapped in a nightmarish situation and can see no way out. The ear-bleeding noise from upstairs steals their sleep, shatters their nerves, ruins Caroline's health, and makes it impossible to sell the flat and move away. Even when they want to give up, they can't. Finally, Stephen decides to settle the ugly feud his own way. And that is the worst thing that could ever happen to all of them.

Davis' portrayal of an unstable mind sinking inexorably deeper into madness is stunningly realistic. The reader watches, paralysed, helpless to prevent the inevitable tragedies that race toward them. It is a breathtaking, shattering experience.

Noise Abatement leaves us protesting that we, the gentle readers, could never go so far, never lose control that way. But, somewhere deep inside, is a tiny voice that says don't be so sure. Who knows what each of us is capable of? More significant, how do we know when someone else will reach the breaking point? Is the person behind you on the escalator just waiting for an excuse to blow? The fear is in never knowing the answers.

Dark realism has its star players and Carol Anne Davis is certainly in the forefront of this emerging sub-genre. So few can tighten the screws as well as she does in every novel. Shrouded is shocking. Safe As Houses is chilling. Noise Abatement is pure, petrifying terror. Every one is like a dreadful train wreck -- we want to stop looking, but nothing can tear us away from the scene. She is that talented.

There is one more thing Davis' books deliver: a chance to wake up; be on the watch for the monsters in hiding around us all. Listen to her and be a bit safer. Not many novels offer that kind of a chance. Take it and be grateful. And try to be patient until that next novel comes along.'

Lisa DuMond, sf site, mid-January 2001

'Here's one for anyone who's ever had the misfortune to have Ravy Davy Gravy for a neighbour. Davis focuses on the kind of banal but harrowing crimes that really make the skin crawl. Here, a young Edinburgh couple have their existence shattered by Trustafarian students who turn the flat above into a 24-hour rave. Tormented by lack of sleep and the inability of police or council to help, apply their own brand of justice, with nerve-shreddingly horrendous results.'

Cathi Unsworth, BizArre, February 2001 issue

'On the fast track to the first division is Scottish writer Carol Anne Davis, whose third novel, Noise Abatement, is an Edinburgh thriller with much wicked irony and dark chills to spare. Stephen and Caroline find their lives blighted by the proverbial neighbours from hell; when Stephen takes the matter into his vengeful hands, all hell breaks loose in the most unexpected way. You will laugh, cringe and look askance at the strangers inhabiting the flat above you.'

Maxim Jakubowski, The Guardian, 6th January 2001

'Equipped with an intriguing pedigree ("She has written about sex and death for adult magazines ...") and an endorsement from Ian Rankin ("This is our world ... revealed in its true sanguinary colours. You've got to read her"), Davis has produced a terse and compulsive thriller than rivals Barbara Vine's fiction in its dark hues. The plot may be encapsulated in the title of an old Paul Simon song, in which the diminutive one reminded apartment dwellers that, "One Man's Ceiling is Another Man's Floor." In this case the ceiling belongs to a young couple: Stephen and Caroline, the floor to four recently graduated students, whose main pastime appears to be jumping on to it from tall items of furniture and playing very loud music all night. Their careers and sex life impaired by these antics, Stephen and Caroline retaliate with small acts of revenge which gradually escalate and lead inexorably to tragedy.'

David Cunningham, The Scotsman, 16th December 2000

'When three students move into the flat above Stephen and Caroline Day, their happy existence in their comfortable flat in Edinburgh turns into a nightmare. Despite friendly overtures and eventually recourse to the police, nothing works, they continue to be tormented by loud music, bangs and crashes from the flat above that gradually destroys their life. Deprived of sleep, and for Caroline unable to work, as she had been working from home, Stephen becomes obsessed with ways of ridding himself of his tormentors.

For me, who lives in a detached house in the country with open fields to the rear and quiet neighbours on both sides, this was an eye opener to say the least. It had never occurred to me how noise could virtually destroy ones life. As I became immersed in the book, I felt Caroline's and Stephen's desperation. And it is frightening. Particularly the pressures put on Caroline and Stephen's relationship, which begins to deteriorate both sexually and in their ability to verbally communicate.

Individually, both Caroline and Stephen attempt to deal with the situation, but there is no quick solution and Stephen's desperation grows and eventually he takes steps to release himself and Caroline from what he sees as an intolerable situation. But is his solution more frightening than the persecution he and Caroline are suffering, and will his actions eliminate the problem or exacerbate it?'

Lizzie Hayes, Mystery Women, December 2000 issue

'When new neighbours move into the flat above, Stephen and Caroline Day's pleasant lives turn into a nightmare. Loud, loud music day and night and continuous crashes and bangs stop them sleeping and shatter their nerves and their livelihoods.

Carol Anne Davis keeps her readers on tenterhooks waiting for the next thud, the next appalling burst of noise and Stephen's next move to dispose of their tormentors. As he becomes increasingly desperate, so his plans for revenge become increasingly bizarre - with horrifying consequences...

Miss Davis has written a black thriller - illuminated with rays of black comedy - which is all the more gripping because it could happen to anyone.

Warning, don't read it at night, or you won't sleep, like poor Caroline and Stephen. I know, I couldn't.'

Angela Turnbull, Salisbury Journal, 14th December 2000

'Davis mixes her two pet preoccupations - sex and death - in her latest novel, set in urban Edinburgh. Noisy neighbours rob Stephen and Caroline Day of their sleep, and insomnia turns this normal couple into would-be killers. But their revenge comes at a price. Kinky, surreal and full of suspense, Davis gives the mundane a horrifying edge.'

Audrey Statham, Scotland on Sunday, 3rd December 2000

'Oops. Last time I chided the rising Scots crime star for heavy-handedness with the Ruth Rendell psychotic cliches. So I'm embarrassed to say I found this wish-fulfilment tale of a dentist trying to murder his noisy neighbours a touch too light on the deep, dark motivation. But it's a neat, ironic read - almost, but not quite, black comedy.'

Jeremy Jehu, ITV Teletext Bookmarks (Page 146, 4th December 2000)