In addition to her Dandy Gilver historical mystery series, Catriona McPherson continues to write stand-alone novels that defy categorization. Just this month Quiet Neighbors was released and while it is certainly a novel filled with secrets, at its core it is a character-centric story sure to appeal to fans of all genres.
Quiet Neighbors is an ode to the written word. Anybody who loves books – physical books – will feel a connection with this novel. The opening scenes as Catriona describes the crowded bookshop in this idyllic Scottish town will have readers digging out their passports for a spontaneous journey. Centering this story around a bookstore was an inspired choice and might just have folks adding new titles to their to-be-read piles.
At the heart of the novel are the two central characters: Jude Hamner and Lowell Glen. There are plenty of other interesting townsfolk and even a few people who rise up to be more than just secondary characters, but Jude and Lowell do most of the heavy lifting in Quiet Neighbors. And for that, readers will be very glad – as both of them are fascinating and complex characters begging to be explored and unraveled by devoted readers.
Jude is running from her previous life. Her storybook marriage is over and her parents recently died in a horrible accident. She’s hardworking and steadfast, but with a vulnerability just below the surface. Her desire to view this village as a fairytale oasis is so convincing as to lure the reader in to this mindset.
Lowell is an absent-minded curmudgeon. He runs the over-crowded bookstore and has a past shrouded in secrecy. At times, his interactions with the townsfolk borders on bizarre, and this only serve to heighten his uniqueness. Lowell is a tough one to unravel, but at the novel goes on, readers slowly get to see what lies beneath the cracks in his exterior.
As stated earlier, Quiet Neighbors is not without its fair share of mysteries. Why Jude left London being the most obvious of them. But other secrets and shenanigans abound – everything from family lineage to marginalia – to keep readers turning the pages late into the evening. Throughout it all, a feeling of nostalgia permeates the proceedings. Quite Neighbors harkens back to the cozy tales told by the Golden Age writers of crime fiction.
Catriona McPherson’s writing style is evident in every word on the page. She peppers the dialogue with just enough Scottish dialect to make the characters ring authentic, without over doing it, which can deter some readers from local color books such as this. No one will ever accuse Catriona McPherson of writing a predictable book. Quiet Neighbors is a quirky tale that moves along at a leisurely pace. This is very fitting for the story being told, but readers looking for fast-paced and scary plots should probably look elsewhere; but for those who like evocative material rooted in character, this book should more than satisfy.
Disclaimer: An e-galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.