Neighbourhood Watch

I just finished Nosy Neighbors by Freya Sampson and it was such a satisfying read. Don’t you love it when that happens? This book hit all the right notes: intriguing plot, engaging characters and an absolute page-turner. It is a crime story mixed with a charming intergenerational friendship.  It echos one of my favourite shows, Only Murders in the Building, so if you are fan of that you might love this book too!

Dorothy is a feisty 77-year-old woman who has been living at Shelley House, an 1891 apartment building in a small English town, for the past 34 years. She holds down the fort there, doing daily inspections and constantly informing the landlord of all the problems with the building. The apartment is certainly showing its age at this point–in one of Sampson’s amusing details, the sign out front now reads “Hell House,” having lost a few letters…much to Dorothy’s chagrin! Dorothy stands guard at Shelley House and she knows all of the comings and goings of her neighbours but she is definitely not friends with them. No neighbourly chit-chat occurs here unless she has to nag someone about leaving their garbage in the hallway or partying too loud late at night.

Dorothy’s daily routine of building inspections, neighbour watching and tea drinking had been going along just fine until a new, young (pink haired…again much to Dorothy’s chagrin) woman, named Kat, moves into the building. Kat is also prickly and distant; she keeps to herself and only intends to be at Shelley House for a short time. However, these two crochety apartment dwellers are forced to join forces when a crime occurs in the building and it comes to light that the landlord wants to tear down this heritage home to construct a new condo. Dorothy and Kat must therefore work together to try and save it.

Sampson writes in such an appealing way, her characters are fully fleshed out and the plot is intriguing, giving us just enough detail and description but never weighing the reader down. It is a fast-paced read, and as Sampson starts to unveil the backstories of the main characters, as well as some of the other neighbours living in the building, you won’t want to put the book down. This book is a mystery of sorts, but also the tale of unlikely friendships and contemporary drama as it tackles issues such as corporate greed and affordable housing. I couldn’t wait to solve the mystery — but more so, I just wanted the chance to sit with these characters longer, especially Dorothy, as she is such a rich, layered and wryly humorous character…in other words a very cool septuagenarian!

If you enjoy this one, you may want to go back and read Sampson’s first novel, The Last Chance LibraryIt also takes place in the quaint fictional town of Chalcot and has a lot of the same charm as Nosy Neighbors.

Kelly I.
Library Assistant, Main Library

Kelly has the great pleasure of spending her time as a Library Assistant at the Main Library. Her favourite things about working at WPL are getting to experience amazing new books all the time, and then write about some of her favourites for the Check It Out blog. When she is away from the library, Kelly loves spending time with her family, who are big into hiking and taking in the great outdoors. Kelly majored in art history at university and so she also loves to immerse herself in all things arts and culture. Her favourite way to spend a Sunday is at an art gallery and then lounging at a café afterwards with a latte in one hand and a great book in the other.