Monday 7 June 2021

The Good Neighbours by Nina Allan | Blog Tour Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

The Good Neighbours by Nina Allan - 4/5
"Cath is a photographer hoping to go freelance, working in a record shop to pay the rent and eking out her time with her manager Steve. He thinks her photography is detective work, drawing attention to things that would otherwise pass unseen and maybe he's right...

Starting work on her new project - photographing murder houses - she returns to the island where she grew up for the first time since she left for Glasgow when she was just eighteen. The Isle of Bute is embedded in her identity, the draughty house that overlooked the bay, the feeling of being nowhere, the memory of her childhood friend Shirley Craigie and the devastating familicide of her family by the father, John Craigie.

Arriving at the Craigie house, Cath finds that it's occupied by Financial Analyst Alice Rahman. Her bid to escape the city lifestyle, the anxiety she felt in that world, led her to leave London and settle on the island. The strangeness of the situation brings them closer, leading them to reinvestigate the Craigie murder. Now, within the walls of the Craigie house, Cath can uncover the nefarious truths and curious nature of John Craigie: his hidden obsession with the work of Richard Dadd and the local myths of the fairy folk."

I did not expect to love this book as much as I do.

The Good Neighbours opens with fifteen year olds Cath and Shirley planning a sneaky trip on the ferry over to mainland Scotland (they live on an island). We get a slight insight into what Shirley's family are like. Mum Susan who spends a lot of time with her three year old son Sonny and carpenter dad John who seems to be quite an angry man.

Shirley is more outgoing and ballsy whereas Cath is more quiet and reserved. 

Fast forward to present day and Cath now works in a record shop. Her passion is photography and she goes to photograph the house of a murder scene. A university lecturer in her 50s has been bludgeoned to death. 

This forces Cath to remember the death of her old childhood friend Shirley Craigie. Shirley, her mother and her brother had been shot at the home and John, her father, was killed in a car accident on the same day. The police believed that John had killed his family before committing suicide. Cath is not convinced and delves deeper into the case.

She travels back to the island to see the Craigie house and discovers a woman named Alice living there. She befriends her and they start to work together on finding out what really happened.

We read all about John Craigie's childhood and discover that he was convinced that fairies were real. The story has a lot of focus on Richard Dadd, a Victorian painter who killed his father because he believed that he was the devil. I don't want to give too much away because it is just a beautifully written book that I absolutely devoured.

Nina Allan has done some great genre blurring here. At the beginning, I thought this was your standard crime novel but it is so much more. We have that crime aspect but with a hint of fairy mythology too.

It explores how much people remember, we have conversations between Cath and Shirley in Cath's head and everything is blended really well. I loved it. 


A massive thank you to Riverrun for having me on the blog tour. You can find information about other bloggers that are taking part in the graphic below.

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