Nosy Neighbors

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Release Date: 
April 2, 2024
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Nosy Neighbors is comforting as a cuddle, delightful as a favorite aunt, and filled with familiar characters who will remind you of people you know.

They all live in a residential building called Shelley House, though the sign over the porch has been vandalized so it now reads Hell House.

Dorothy Darling in flat two has lived there for 34 years, longer than any of the other residents, so expects a measure of regard in spite of her customary bristly demeanor. After all, she has  taken it upon herself to make sure the house is safe, clean, and run properly—meaning all rules are followed to the smallest detail.

The same way she herself follows a strict morning routine of taking breakfast at a card table in the drawing room next to the big bay window watching her neighbors depart for the day:

"There was the tall, ferocious man from flat five, accompanied by his equally ferocious, pavement-fouling dog. Next came the pretty-if-only-she'd-stop-scowling teenager from flat three, staring at her phone and pointedly ignoring her father, who followed her carrying a battered briefcase under one arm and an overflowing box of recycling under the other. As he emptied the contents into the communal bins, a tin can missed the deposit and rolled onto the pavement. The man hurried off. . . ."

Dorothy immediately records this infraction in her house violations diary that she will report to the building owner without delay the same way she records and reports every violation she finds during her daily inspection of Shelley House.

Next out the door comes the ". . . red-headed woman from flat six departing hand-in-hand with her current paramour, a tall, bovine man in a cheap leather jacket." Though not a violation per se, Dorothy makes a mental note of it.

When the morning activity lulls, Dorothy tends to her own flat, cleaning, dusting, and sweeping. She's interrupted when a dilapidated, smoke-belching beater of a car whose engine sounds badly in need of repair parks in front of the building. Dorothy is startled when the driver steps out, a young woman with pink hair and tattoos on both arms wearing construction worker type dungarees.

It's Kat Bennett, looking for the room she has subleased at Shelley House. But when Kat rings Dorothy's apartment to inquire, Dorothy doesn't answer. Kat rings three times before Dorothy—sharpened pencil in hand as a weapon in case she needs it—rudely speaks through the intercom:

"'Who are you and what do you want?'"

Kat replies that she's come about the rental room, and everything goes downhill from there.

Dorothy doesn't like Kat the least bit. She points out that Kat is illegally parked—a rear wheel up on the curb—then quotes Rule 244 of the Highway Code to prove it. Not only that, but it's illegal to sublet a second bedroom in a flat at Shelley House.

Kat doesn't like the grumpy old bag sniping at her through the intercom telling her there is no room after she's driven all day.

Turns out Kat has arranged to rent a second bedroom in flat one from Joseph Chambers, a pleasant elderly man who, accompanied by his beloved Jack Russell Terrier named Reggie, gives her a warmer welcome. She doesn't tell him that she's no stranger to the village of Chalcot, nor is she unfamiliar with Hell House. Her grandfather lived in the village his entire life, but she doesn't want anyone to know she is back. She has her reasons, so maybe she won't stay long anyway. She'll have to wait and see.

"She'd learned at an early age it was best not to get too close to people you lived with."

Shortly after Kat moves in, the residents of Shelley House receive bad news. Letters arrive saying they are all going to be evicted. The owner wants to tear down the 130-year-old historic building and build an eight-story apartment complex in its place. Some of the residents are fine with this, but some aren't, including Joseph, who takes it upon himself to try to save his home and all their homes by fighting the eviction. Every day he goes out with handmade signs signifying his protest against the building owner's development plans.

When Joseph is assaulted in his flat, the safety and welfare of the other tenants are put in jeopardy, as well, but with no leads the police close the case. Kat and Dorothy join forces to take up the investigation to get some answers and find out who attacked Joseph.

Along the way, 25-year-old Kat and 77-year-old Dorothy come to know each other better. Readers do, too. Chapter by chapter author Freya Sampson carefully lays out the past life events that have brought each to their current outlook on life—proving once again that the past truly does inform the future.

Kudos to author Freya Sampson for writing this heartfelt, uplifting book full of unforgettable, vividly true-to-life characters. Loved it.