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Quiet Neighbours by Catriona McPherson – a review

I have previously read and enjoyed a couple of novels by Catriona McPherson so when this came up on netgalley I jumped at the chance to get it.

The story revolves around three main characters. There is the quiet bookshop owner Lowell who has a mysterious collection of items he keeps under lock and key. He is a loner who spends his time in the dusty unorganised rooms of his book shop. Jude is a young women who has recently lost both her parents and is running away from something. She arrives at the bookshop and is soon employed to try and tidy it up. Finally there is Eddy who turns up saying she is the daughter of Lowell from a one night stand and that she is about to give birth to his grandchild. All three are hiding secrets.

This was an intriguing story but I have to say I don’t think this was anywhere near as good as The Child Garden. The story just seemed a bit too silly for my liking. The premise was good, three lives revolving around a bookshop with the hints of murder and crime. It sounds like it would be right up my street but unfortunately something just didn’t work for me.

Partly I think it was just a bit long, obviously this may change in the final edition out in April 2016. There just seemed to be a little too many coincidences and misunderstandings. It almost felt as though there were too many stories being thrown into one novel and could have worked better if it had been a bit shorter. The writing itself is, as always with Catriona MacPherson good and it keeps you hooked with the phrases and nuances used. Equally each of the characters as separate beings were interesting and kept me turning the pages. However the interaction between the characters didn’t always seem to work. I never really had a clear sense of how old they were although we were told that Lowell was in his sixties, and that Eddy was 18 but it just didn’t really work in my mind.

The end was good in that it wrapped up all the loose stories which I like, and I did enjoy the actual narrative but I was a little disappointed. Saying that it certainly kept my interest and I was keen to find out what the secrets were. I suspect I may have been expecting more crime which coloured my view at the end.

Overall if you like well written mystery novels with interesting characters then this is definitely worth a go and I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for future novels by Catriona McPherson.

 

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The Child Garden by Catriona McPherson – a review

I was lucky enough to be given a copy of this via netgalley. Although I’ve since found out that Catriona McPherson has an extensive back catalogue of books, this was the first of her books I’d read. I have got one of her previous novels, ‘As she left it’ on my to be read pile but for some reason it never made it to the top.

The Child Garden, centres on an old school called Eden. It was a school (I think set in Scotland) that prided itself on being an alternative school for happy children. The school was shut down after a child died during an overnight camping trip, and is now being run as a care home. The ex-school’s only neighbour is Gloria who has a son in the home. She lives in Rough House which is a spooky old place that belongs to one of the home’s residents, Miss Drumm.  Gloria’s life starts to change when an old school friend, and previous Eden pupil turns up on her doorstep. He claims that he is being stalked by an old friend from the school, and that she wants to meet him. Things are clearly not that simple however.

This book quickly hooked me in. During the first few pages I thought it was going to be a bit of a run of the mill, nasty man harasses naive reclusive women novel. However I was soon surprised. This was a really interesting story that was full of twists and turns. There were some bits that I thought were a little predictable, but there were enough surprises that this didn’t matter, and it soon swept you along. Equally at first I thought I was going to dislike Gloria as she started off seemingly rather meek and mild, yet as the story progressed I began to see that actually she was just lonely and mourning a son who wasn’t yet dead.

The plot was quick moving, and I liked the way the characters were introduced. There was almost a sense of each character having a seperate story. You found out their story and what had happened to them, then the chapter was closed and you moved onto the next one. This appealed to the soap opera fan in me, where each character has its own spotlight, and it is not til the end they all come together.

My only slight critiscism was the prologue at the end which I felt was all a little bit too ‘happy ever after’ for those involved. However saying that I don’t like it when a story isn’t concluded properly, so maybe its better this way.

Overall I would say this was a thoroughly good read, and I’m definitely going to give ‘As she left it’ a go shortly.

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