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The New Neighbors


The New Neighbors

Londoners Jack and Syd have been together for a while now and thought it might be time to consider buying a home. So when they show up for an open house, actually a detached house in the city, they are skeptical at best about their chances. With the large number of people looking, they can’t possibly win the bid. Even so, they put in an offer. There are many better and higher bids, but somehow they end up with the house. Syd is thrilled; Jack, less so. If it makes Syd happy, though, he wants to support her. Still, there’s something about the place that feels…off.

The estate agent tells them that the previous owner found love on the internet and moved abruptly, leaving everything behind. Despite the sheer quantity, Syd and Jack think it will be fun sifting through all of his possessions, all of his junk, all of his treasures. Who knows what they will find? Well, it turns out to be far less fun than either had hoped. In fact, it turns out to be creepy. The things they find…Jack doesn’t tell Syd about one or two of them. And when Syd discovers some items that can’t possibly be in their house, she freaks.

"THE NEW NEIGHBORS is about as difficult a book to put down as you can find.... Simon Lelic’s writing is simply ingenious, and you will have to decide who’s the victim in this story."

Syd has told Jack about bits of her childhood, the bad things that happened to her and how she came to be the person she is today. These have made Jack desperate to keep his girlfriend safe. But the stuff going on in their new house has knocked him off balance. Now Jack isn’t sure if he trusts Syd anymore. He’s feeling lost and unable to even keep himself safe. And Syd? She obviously has secrets. But who doesn’t? And with her history, it’s no wonder, really.

So the couple has begun to write down their account of recent events. Because something has occurred. The police have been nosing around. Syd and Jack want their stories on paper before the police start looking seriously at the two of them. But will any of it make a difference? The forces against them are strong. And as much as they might want to, they cannot, under any circumstances, confide in the authorities. Knowing where to turn is now a matter of life and death. Syd has told Jack a lot, but she hasn’t told him everything. She keeps urging him to trust her, but honestly, is that wise? Jack wants to, but he can’t deny that she’s pushing him away. Why? Are all her claims of love false? This girl comes with a lot of baggage, even though she seems to have been the victim. Could she be setting her boyfriend up?

THE NEW NEIGHBORS is about as difficult a book to put down as you can find. Written in alternating voices, your interest never wanes. Jack writes a chapter but leaves a cliffhanger at the end. Then Syd picks up from there, writing about what she deems important at that point. It’s impossible not to want to skip forward to keep on with Jack’s story, but then Syd sinks the hook and you’re compelled to stick with her. And just when you think you’ve figured something out --- the aha moment --- you probably haven’t. Simon Lelic’s writing is simply ingenious, and you will have to decide who’s the victim in this story.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on April 13, 2018

The New Neighbors
by Simon Lelic