Monday, October 14, 2019

Strangers at the Gate Strangers at the Gate by Catriona McPherson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Hardcover:368 pages
Expected publication: October 22nd 2019
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ISBN1250070015 (ISBN13: 9781250070012)

When Finn and Paddy decide to move from their home in the city to the small town of Simmerton, it feels like everything has finally fallen into place. Paddy's been made partner at the law firm in town, and Finn has found full-time work as the deacon. Paddy's new boss has even offered them the use of a gate house on his property. Finn feels like this must be a fairy tale. Paddy thinks they've won the lottery. Either way, they agree: it's perfect.

But only days after moving into the gate house, Finn begins to have doubts. She keeps hearing strange sounds, and the thicket of trees make her feel claustrophobic rather than safe. When she and Paddy discover the bloody bodies of Paddy's boss and his wife, the fairytale has officially ended. A strange email—supposedly sent from the dead man—makes it clear: this was murder.

Paddy and Finn's dream of a new life quickly turns into a nightmare as the plot thickens and the tension grows. With strange neighbors and a haunting setting, Catriona McPherson once again weaves a page-turning tale of suspense.

Strangers at the Gate is the first book I’ve read by Catriona McPherson and it won’t be the last. It’s twisty and atmospheric, dark and suspenseful! I thought I had it all figured out until I figured out that I didn’t. I love a book that has the ability to keep me speculating until the very end.

When Paddy comes home to tell Finn of a wonderful opportunity in the quaint little town of Simmerton, Finn has doubts. First off, everything seems to fall into place a little too seamlessly. Paddy is offered a partnership in a law firm and Finn lands a full-time job as a Deacon in the parish. Not only do they both get the job of their dreams, they’re also offered the opportunity to live in a cute little gatehouse on the grounds of Widdershins (Ominous name, no?) owned by their benefactors – rent free. To add to this, they are able to rent their flat in Edinburgh and gain a little pocket change, too. As Finn remarks, if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is … Those words come back to haunt Finn as the story progresses.

When a murder/suicide occurs within a short time of their moving to Simmerton, the story takes a mysterious and disturbing turn. Their employers and benefactors, Lovett Dudgeon and his wife, Tuft, invite Finn and Paddy to dinner, it’s a short walk from their gatehouse up to the main house and Finn doesn’t want to go. Despite herself, Finn actually really likes Tuft and enjoys the evening. On their walk home Finn realizes she’s left her purse; she and Paddy return to the Dudgeon's home only to find them dead in what appears to be a murder/suicide. The couple don’t call the police because Finn and Paddy both have secrets of their own and as Amy Tan once said: “That was how dishonesty and betrayal started, not in big lies but in small secrets.” And so, begins this suspenseful story.

Finn is an absolutely wonderful narrator, often shocking the reader (that would be me) out of their belief on how a deacon should behave. She is a breath of fresh air in this dark tale of murder, suspense, and treachery. I loved her and I hope that we hear more about her in another book – even though this is classified as a stand alone novel. The plot is fantastic and the characters all but leap off the pages they’re so realistic and well depicted. This is a must read for any fan of the genre.

A big thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books, and Catriona McPherson for the pleasure of reading and reviewing this title.

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