Lives up to the promise of mystery

The Good Neighbour, by Beth Miller, reviewed by Bethan Jones.

With the initial insinuation that things are not always as they appear, this novel lives up to the promise of mystery. While this review will be deliberately delicate about plot details in order to preserve many of the surprises from the book, the storytelling will lead you to return to revisit earlier chapters for hints and clues that may not have appeared significant on a first glance.

Miller’s decision to write from the perspective of multiple characters allows the reader to empathise with different characters caught up in a complex and sensitive situation. Each character’s voice is distinct; the sense of Minette’s experience and frustration adjusting to her new identity as a mother, shines through most clearly from the text.

The writing style offers the opportunity to follow characters’ thoughts and choices throughout the events of the novel without forcing them to become two-dimensional clichés. The details left me able to see the reasoning behind characters’ decisions, regardless of my agreement with them. The plot continuously driving forwards makes it easy to become caught up in watching the story build into an inevitable tense climax. Personally, I would have liked more details about the resolution at the end, feeling that the dilemmas and incidents detailed were wrapped up a little too neatly, and with some questions remaining unanswered.

On the whole, the opportunity to reflect on how I may respond to the dilemmas and challenges occurring in the book was intriguing, and complemented a compelling narrative.

Ebury Press; 201; Pb £7.99

Reviewed by Bethan Jones, who is a PhD student at the University of the West of England

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