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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Strangers at the Gate - Catriona McPherson

Strangers at the Gate by Catriona McPherson

First Paragraph(s):

Looking back it's tempting to say I knew from the start, as soon as Paddy said the word for the first time.  I can nearly convince myself I shivered at the sound of it, Simmerton.
     But I'd be lying.  Truth is, there was a while back then when everything seemed fine.  Or even better than fine.  Everything seemed golden.  If there were worries they were the usual kind that everyone has and then remembers, laughing.  If I had doubts, it was only because I was prone to be doubtful.  And the odd little frights and freak-outs?  They were just stories to tell to tell the grandchildren, come the day.   

My Thoughts:

Strangers at the Gate is quite the Gothic-style mystery.  You can probably tell that from the cover - shades of Manderley and Rebecca indeed.  Set in a small community in Scotland where the sun only tops the hills at certain times of the year, the whole book feels cold and foggy and spooky.  Heavy on the spooky.  Paddy and Finnie have moved away from the city to Simmerton and feel quite lucky to both have such good jobs.  They have a small cottage to live in and one of the first things they do is go to dinner with Paddy's boss and his wife at their home.  And then the twists begin, the wild and crazy events, the quite scary things that made this reader determined to solve the puzzle.  In case you wondered, I had lots of ideas - some were right and some definitely were not. 

I listened to this book on audio and it was very ably narrated by Lucy Paterson - just a wonderful Scottish accent.  I've met the author, Catriona McPherson at more than one mystery conference and she is witty, funny, really a great toastmaster or panelist - with a wonderful Scottish accent to boot.  She writes various kinds of mysteries - historicals, cozies and her darker standalones.  If you ever get to a chance to attend one of her events, go.  She's great.     

Blurb:

Finnie Doyle and Paddy Lamb are leaving city life in Edinburgh behind them and moving to the little town of Simmerton. Paddy's been made partner at the law firm in town, and Finnie has snagged a job as a church deacon. Their rented cottage is quaint; their new colleagues are charming, and they can't believe their luck.

But only days after moving into the gate house, Finnie begins to have doubts. She keeps hearing strange sounds, and the thicket of trees make her feel claustrophobic rather than safe. When they witness the bloody aftermath of a brutal murder, it changes everything. They've each been keeping secrets about their pasts. And they both know their precious new start won't survive a scandal. Together, for the best of reasons, they make the worst decision of their lives.

And that's only the beginning. The deep, deep valley where Simmerton sits is unlike anywhere Finnie and Paddy have been before. They are not the only ones hiding in its shadow and very soon they've lost control of the game they decided to play...

22 comments:

  1. Ooooh, I love a bit of Gothic! Nice review, Kay, will look into this one. (Funnily enough an English friend of mine lived in Scotland for about 10 years and lived in one of those valleys where the sun only tops the hills in winter.)

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    1. Cath, I found her descriptions of the location to definitely add to the spooky vibe of the book.

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  2. Sounds like a good one, Kay! Always love a Gothic mystery. Will keep this book in mind.

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  3. Sounds like a good book to cuddle up with on a cold winter day.

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    1. Yes, that's a good thought. Though it hasn't been too cold at my house - ha!

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  4. McPherson really is good. This one kept me glued to the pages!

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    1. Glad it know that it worked for you too, Jenclair.

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  5. I do enjoy a good Gothic mystery. So atmospheric.

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    1. There is definitely a lot of atmosphere described in this book. The setting add to it.

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  6. It's set in Scotland? Count me in! :)

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    1. I know. That's usually my reaction too and when you add in that Scottish accent of the narrator...

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  7. I have read two of McPherson's Dandy Gilver series, but I am wary of her standalone that are, as you say, darker. I like dark but somehow I get the impression that the standalones are creepy and spooky. But I have two of them so will pick one to try someday.

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    1. Her standalones do all seem to be very spooky. This is the first one I have read.

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  8. Oooh, I love a good Gothic mystery! I'm definitely going to check this one out - maybe on audio ;)

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    1. Yes, this might be a good one for you on audio, if you can handle the accent. I know that some struggle with that or with British accents in general. I watch enough British crime shows that it doesn't bother me.

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  9. I've read an earlier book by this author and even though I didn't love the story I did like the writing. This sounds much more up my alley. I love a Gothic mystery and I love the sound of the narrator.

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    1. Yes, I think the narrator is definitely a plus. You might try this one.

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  10. I think I would like this one!

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    1. Gayle, I do think you would like this book. You should try it.

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  11. Ok, since I have been loving all of my Scottish fiction I must add this to the list!

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Thanks for stopping by! I am so happy to hear your thoughts and will respond as soon as I can. Happy Reading!