Thursday, September 12, 2019

Review: The Good Neighbor by Cathryn Grant

This book is told from a variety of perspectives, almost all of whom are from the same neighborhood where a fourteen year old girl, Brittany Cushing, goes missing. From the beginning her mother is adamant that she wouldn't have left of her own volition and therefore she must have been kidnapped by a man who wished to do horrible things to her.

This seemed like an odd assumption until the reader finds out that her mother keeps her very sheltered, she is homeschooled and her access to the internet and the outside world in general is monitored obsessively by both her parents. This becomes a central plot point and makes Moira Cushing (Brittany’s mother) an unlikeable and somewhat confusing character. At its core the book seems anti homeschooling so bear that in mind. I don’t think that is the author’s intent but it does appear to be a cautionary tale of what happens when we hide our children from the world at large and let them think everyone is out to get them. 

One of the perspectives we hear from the most is Taylor Stanwick, neighbor to the Cushing family and somewhat of a busybody who quickly develops an obsession with helping to find Brittany. Taylor has a husband, Duncan, who thinks she is too invested and becoming too distant from him, Taylor thinks he doesn't care enough about the tragedy that has occurred in their neighborhood

Then there's Luke, a somewhat mysterious character who we know to be old enough to be out of high school but not old enough to drink alcohol. He's known around the neighborhood as a bit of a no hoper and a bit "off" but mostly harmless. He does give off a bit of a creepy vibe and he’s horrible to his mother, so again, not the most likeable or sympathetic character. 

Crystal is a wildcard. she's the only character aside from the detectives investigating who doesn't live in the same neighborhood as the Cushings, she finds the facebook page set up to spread awareness of Brittany's disappearance and contacts Taylor. 

This is where the story really starts, and I am not going to tell you much more about the plot, because well, it’s a mystery! 

This is a very well written, incredibly well paced mystery with elements of pure confusion that are written so well and intentionally. Crystal is an unreliable narrator and as the story progresses other perspectives look less and less reliable until you have no idea who is really telling the truth. 

In essence, most of the characters are unlikeable in a way, and definitely hiding things, but that made me love the book even more. Every character had flaws and redeeming qualities and they felt like real people. Taylor looked, on the surface, like a concerned neighbor, but was she really? or was there something darker at play? And were Moira and Alan really the grieving parents you’re led to believe? 

This is the first book I've read by Cathryn Grant and I've already bought 3 others on kindle to continue reading her great fiction. 

The pace is fast but not racing to a conclusion without building suspense and making you feel something. I felt a lot of things reading The Good Neighbor and most of them can be summed up with this: Oh my god, what is wrong with these people? 

The writing is tight, well constructed, with just enough descriptions so that you can visualise the neighborhood but not so overdone that you sit there going “oh my god, enough with the courtyards already!” 

I would recommend this to readers of authors like Ruth Ware and Riley Sager, though with the cautionary note that this book is not a creepy thriller, it is a mystery with thrilling elements.

4 stars for The Good Neighbor by Cathryn Grant. 

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