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
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
- 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
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
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
'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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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)