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Nosy Neighbors

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Hardcover
$28.00 US
| $37.99 CAN
On sale Apr 02, 2024 | 384 Pages | 978-0-593-55051-9
A USA TODAY BESTSELLER!

Nothing brings neighbors together like someone else’s secrets… At Shelley House, the walls have ears, and they’re attached to a ragtag duo of busybodies ready to pry, snoop, and generally annoy their neighbors into solving a crime.

 
Seventy-seven-year-old Dorothy Darling has lived in Shelley House longer than any of the other residents, and if you take their word for it, she’s as cantankerous as they come. But Dorothy has her reasons for spying. And none of them require justifying herself to Kat Bennett. 
 
Twenty-five-year-old Kat has never known a place where she felt truly at home, and crumbling Shelley House is no different. Her neighbors find her prickly and unapproachable, but beneath her tough exterior, Kat’s plagued by a guilty secret from her past.
 
When their apartments face demolition, sworn enemies Kat and Dorothy agree on just one thing: they must save their historic building. But when someone plays dirty—and one of the residents is viciously taken down—Dorothy and Kat seek justice. The police close the investigation too soon, leaving it up to the unlikely amateur sleuths—with a playful Jack Russell terrier at their side—to restore peace in their community.
One

Dorothy

Years later, when the residents of Shelley House looked back on the extraordinary events of that long, turbulent summer, they would disagree on how it all began. Tomasz in flat five said it started the day the letters arrived: six innocuous-looking brown envelopes that fell through the communal letterbox one Wednesday morning in May. Omar in flat three claimed the problems came a few weeks later when an ambulance pulled up in front of the building, its siren wailing, and the body was loaded into the back. And Gloria from flat six said her astrologer had told her way back in January there would be drama and destruction in her near future (and, more importantly, that she'd be engaged by Christmas).

But for Dorothy Darling, flat two, there was never any question of when the trouble began. She could pinpoint the exact moment when everything changed: the single flap of a butterfly's wing that would eventually lead to the tornado that engulfed them all.

It was the day the girl with pink hair arrived at Shelley House.


That morning had started out like any other. Dorothy was woken at six thirty by thumping from the flat overhead. She lay in bed for several minutes, her eyes squeezed shut as she chased the last shadows of her dream. When she could put it off no longer, she rose, her knees clicking obstinately as she moved through to the bathroom to perform her morning ablutions. In the kitchen, Dorothy lit the stove with a match and did her morning stretches while she waited for an egg to boil and her pot of English breakfast tea to steep. Once they were ready, she carried a tray through to the drawing room, where she consumed breakfast sitting at a card table in the bay window. So far, so normal.

As she ate, Dorothy observed her neighbors depart the building. 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 after his daughter, oblivious. Dorothy reached for the diary and pencil she kept near at all times.

7:48 a.m. O.S. (3) Erroneous rubbish disposal.

Once the morning rush hour had passed, Dorothy washed up her crockery, dressed, brushed her long silver hair, and put on her string of pearls. She was back at the window by eight fifty, just in time to see the redheaded woman from flat six departing hand-in-hand with her current paramour, a tall, bovine man in a cheap leather jacket. After that there was a lull and Dorothy changed the beds and dusted the picture frames and objets on the mantelpiece, accompanied by Wagner's Götterdämmerung to block out the din from the flat above.

And then, a little after ten, she was brewing her second pot of tea when she heard a tremendous bang from outside. Dorothy abandoned the kettle and rushed to the front window, where she watched an old, ramshackle blue car pull up in front of the building, its rear wheel mounting the curb. A great cloud of black smoke burped from the exhaust pipe as the engine puttered out, and a moment later the door opened and the driver emerged. It was a young person who looked to be somewhere in their twenties, although at first glance, Dorothy was unsure if it was a man or a woman. They had short, unkempt hair dyed a lurid neon pink and were dressed in a pair of dungarees of the sort one might expect a laborer on a building site to wear. The youth did not seem to have any kind of coat or knitwear, despite it being unseasonably cool for early May, and Dorothy could see tattoos snaking up their arms like graffiti. The person reached into the back seat of the car and heaved out a large, well-worn backpack, then kicked the door shut, causing the vehicle to shake precariously. It was only when they turned to face Shelley House that Dorothy realized she was looking at a young woman.

The girl's face gave nothing away as she surveyed the building, but Dorothy could imagine her taking it in with a mixture of apprehension and awe. After all, one did not come across dwellings like Shelley House every day. Built during the reign of Queen Victoria and named after the English Romantic poet, its broad façade was a mixture of precise red brickwork and embossed white masonry, topped by an ornate balustrade. Wide stone steps led up to the imposing front door, over which the words SHELLEY HOUSE, 1891 were engraved in Gothic script. Impressive bay windows framed the door on the first two floors, while the highest floor-once the servants' quarters before the building was converted into flats-had smaller, rectangular dormer windows. Dorothy could still remember the first time she had seen the building herself; how she had stopped in the middle of the pavement and stared, mouth agape, marveling at its grandeur and history. It was the most beautiful house she had ever seen, and Dorothy had pledged there and then that it would become her home. Thirty-four years later, it still was.

The pink-haired girl continued regarding the building, and as her eyes swept along the ground floor they seemed to pause for a moment on Dorothy's window. Dorothy instinctively drew back, even though she knew nobody could see her through the net curtain. Still, she found her heart beating a little faster as she watched the young woman climb the steps and disappear from view at the front door. Who was she coming to visit in the middle of the working day? Perhaps the uncouth new tenant in flat four? Dorothy waited to hear the sound of a distant bell ringing and was therefore utterly confounded when she heard the unfamiliar chime of her own. Good gracious, it was for her! Should she answer it? It had been a long time since Dorothy had had a caller, and the girl hardly looked trustworthy. Perhaps she was one of those scoundrels who preyed on vulnerable elderly people, tricking her way into their homes, robbing them, and then leaving them for dead? Of course, Dorothy was neither vulnerable nor stupid enough to fall for such a trick, but this young rapscallion was not to know that. Should she fetch a knife from the kitchen drawer, just in case?

The bell sounded again, jolting Dorothy. She reached for her pencil-the nib was sharp enough to be used as a weapon, if circumstances required-and moved to her front door. Some years earlier, a previous landlord had installed an overly elaborate entry system whereby when someone rang her bell, a video appeared on a little screen by her door, showing Dorothy who was there and even allowing her to speak to them before she "buzzed" them in. Dorothy had been horrified by it, even when the engineer insisted that the video was one-way and the person outside could not see her. Now she lowered her face so that her nose was almost touching the screen. It showed a grainy black-and-white image of the woman, who was chewing a fingernail as she waited for an answer. What could she possibly want?

The bell sounded a third time, a longer, more persistent ring. Dorothy cleared her throat before she pressed the button labeled intercom.

"Who are you and what do you want from me?" She had to shout to be heard above the third act of Götterdämmerung, which was still playing in the background.

"I've come about the room."

Dorothy frowned. "You must be mistaken. There is no room here, I assure you."

She heard an audible sigh through the intercom. "Has it gone already? You could have let me know; I've driven all the way here especially."

Dorothy bristled at the girl's impertinent tone. "Then you can go back whence you came. And take that menace of a car with you."

Even on the tiny monitor, Dorothy could see a flash of anger in the girl's face.

"It is parked illegally," Dorothy clarified.

The visitor did not even look back at the vehicle. "No, it's not."

"Yes, it is. Your rear wheel is mounted on the curb, in contravention of Rule 244 of the Highway Code. So unless you move it, I may be forced to telephone the council."

The girl let out a sound somewhere between a laugh and a snort. "Wow, you sound like a right barrel of laughs. Maybe I dodged a bullet after all."

Dorothy had no idea what bullet the girl was referring to, but before she could say something suitably caustic she saw the youth turn and start down the steps, without so much as a thank-you or good-bye.

Dorothy stepped back from the door in triumph. She had no doubt that the girl had intended to ring for flat one, whose ghastly tenant made a habit of illegally subletting his second room. Dorothy had reported him to the building's landlord on three separate occasions, but so far there appeared to have been no obvious sanctions. Still, she took some satisfaction in having thwarted this particular attempt. Standards in Shelley House might have been slipping for years, but she could quite do without that disrespectful young hoodlum living across the hallway.

Dorothy glanced toward her diary on the table. She should write this interaction up now, while it was still fresh in her mind.

10:17 a.m. Impertinent pink-haired caller mistakenly enquiring about room. Educated her on Highway Code and sent her away.

But that could wait. More pressing at this moment was the abandoned pot of tea in need of resuscitation. Dorothy returned to the kitchen, accompanied by the soaring notes of Wagner's Brunhilda riding to her death in the flames.

Two

Kat

Kat opened the boot of the car and chucked her bag in, slamming the lid shut. What a waste of time that had been. She'd even texted last night to make sure the room was still available and had been reassured it was. Now she'd lost a whole morning driving here when she could have been searching for a room and job elsewhere. Kat had been wary about coming back to Chalcot in the first place; perhaps this was a sign she shouldn't be here after all these years? She yanked the driver's door open with force, grimacing as it gave a wail of protest.

"Sorry, Marge," she muttered, patting the frame. The last thing she needed was the car giving up on her today as well.

Kat climbed into the driver's seat as gently as possible, but as she was about to close the door, she heard someone shout her name. She glanced back at the building to see a white-haired man standing in the open doorway, waving in her direction.

"Hello? Are you Kat?"

She nodded but stayed where she was.

"Don't tell me you've made up your mind already?" The man gave her a crooked smile.

Was this some kind of a joke? Kat began to close the door again.

"I know it doesn't look like much from out here, but the room is lovely," he called. "You should come and take a look before you write it off completely."

He was still smiling at her hopefully. Kat opened the door and spoke slowly and loudly in case he had trouble understanding.

"Your wife told me the room has gone already."

The man frowned. "My wife?"

"Yes. She said there was no room."

He paused for a moment and Kat felt a tug of sympathy. The poor thing really was confused if he couldn't even remember his own wife. Then he grinned, his eyes crinkling.

"Oh dear, I think you may have rung the wrong buzzer! Don't worry, you're not the first."

Now it was Kat's turn to frown. "So is the room available?"

"It most certainly is. Come on in and I'll show it to you."

He stood back from the front door, holding it open for her, but Kat remained in the car. Did she really want to stay here? She could still remember the building vividly from her childhood. Whenever she'd been sent to live with her grandfather, Kat used to walk past Shelley House to get from his farm on the outskirts of the village to Chalcot Primary School. Back then, the other kids used to say that the creepy, crumbling old house was home to a wicked witch who locked children in the attic, and so Kat used to speed up whenever she passed in case the witch tried to kidnap her too.

She scanned her eyes over it now. Kat was no longer scared of child-eating witches, but there was still something eerie about Shelley House. The brickwork was faded and crumbling, the window frames warped and peeling, like something from a horror movie. Bits of the stone balustrade were missing from the roof, and the whole structure seemed to tilt ominously to one side. If this was what it looked like on the outside, God knows what state it must be inside. No wonder the rent on the room was so cheap; Kat couldn't imagine anyone willingly choosing to live here.

The man was still standing in the doorway, watching her. Above his head she could see the building name engraved into the stone. Since she'd last been here someone had vandalized it so that rather than reading SHELLEY HOUSE it now said HELL HOUSE. Kat couldn't help smiling at this, and the man grinned back at her.

"Come on, then! I've just put the kettle on."

What the heck? She'd come all this way; she might as well take a look at the place that had scared her so much as a kid. She climbed out of Marge, taking care to close the door softly.

When she reached the top of the steps, the man held out his hand.

"Joseph Chambers. Pleased to meet you."

"Kat Bennett," she said, keeping her own hands in her pockets.

She followed him inside, the door slamming heavily behind them. There was no natural light in here, and it took a moment for Kat's eyes to adjust to the gloom. When they did, she saw that she was in an unremarkable entrance hall. Black-and-white checkered floor tiles hinted at the building's grander past, but now the space seemed to largely be a dumping ground for unwanted possessions. There were piles of unopened post on a shelf, and from somewhere farther up the building Kat heard the sound of drum and bass music, but there were no other signs of life. Two unmarked doors led off either side of the hall and Kat looked between them.
“Touching, entertaining, and deeply compassionate, Nosy Neighbors is a tribute to the power of unexpected community and a portrait of two women who take the risk of healing.”–Shelf Awareness

“Freya Sampson is a master at creating complicated, nuanced characters you care deeply about and Nosy Neighbors is no exception! While a mystery is the central engine of the book, the true story lies in the mundane lives of the residents of Shelley House and the pain each person carries within them. A fun and beautiful book about the devastating power secrets can have on our lives and the many ways community can help you heal.”–Mia P. Manansala, author of the Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Award-winning Arsenic and Adobo
 
“Sampson delivers a lovely cozy crime mystery! A pair of mismatched sleuths cleverly unite their mistrustful London apartment building community in a story of found family that brims over with warmth and charm.”—USA Today bestselling author Sherry Thomas
 
“Nosy Neighbors is addictive reading. Freya Sampson has a wonderful talent for creating characters that feel vividly true to life, and it really shines here. This warm and moving novel is layered with mystery, emotion, and heart as it explores its powerful themes of guilt and community. I just know readers are going to love it as much as I do."—India Holton, author of The Secret Service of Tea and Treason
 
“A fun, heartwarming community caper, this book reminds us that while we can't choose our neighbors, we often end up with exactly the ones we need—even if they infuriate us at first.”—Mikki Brammer, author of The Collected Regrets of Clover
 
“A sweet, uplifting story that explores how a group of strangers can ultimately become a community—and perhaps solve a mystery or two along the way!”—Nikki Erlick, author of The Measure

"Nosy Neighbors is an utterly adorable novel filled with heart and mystery. Freya Sampson gets better and better."New York Times bestselling author Clare Pooley

"Freya Sampson never fails to make me cry in the best possible way, and Nosy Neighbors is no exception. While the characters try to solve a mystery in their quest to save their beloved home, it becomes apparent that the real mystery is how they ended up in that situation in the first place--a mystery Sampson slowly unravels with the utmost care for their humanity and abundant charm. It's impossible not to root for Dorothy, Kat, and even Shelley House itself."—Tori Anne Martin, USA Today bestselling author of This Spells Disaster
 
Nosy Neighbors is a real hug of a book, full of dynamic characters, intrigue, courage and kindness. I loved it!”—Hazel Prior, bestselling author of How the Penguins Saved Veronica

"Touching and thrilling all at once. I loved this clever mystery about friendship, loss and the power of community. Highly recommended!"—Tess Amy, author of The Confidence Games

“The ultimate cozy mystery...if you love “Only Murders in the Building,” you’ll love this”—theSkimm

"A story that will make you laugh, make you try to guess whodunnit, and also feels like a warm hug!"

“Sampson (The Lost Ticket, 2022) once again presents a charming story about intergenerational friendship leading to healing...This heartwarming tale is full of subtle humor and rich characters.”—Booklist

"The tenants are as crafty and charming as the house in this all's-well-that-ends-well tale."—Kirkus
© David Levenson
Freya Sampson is the USA Today bestselling author of The Last Chance Library and The Lost Ticket. She studied history at Cambridge University and worked in television as an executive producer, making documentaries on everything from the British royal family to neighbors from hell. She lives in London with her husband, children, and cats. View titles by Freya Sampson

About

A USA TODAY BESTSELLER!

Nothing brings neighbors together like someone else’s secrets… At Shelley House, the walls have ears, and they’re attached to a ragtag duo of busybodies ready to pry, snoop, and generally annoy their neighbors into solving a crime.

 
Seventy-seven-year-old Dorothy Darling has lived in Shelley House longer than any of the other residents, and if you take their word for it, she’s as cantankerous as they come. But Dorothy has her reasons for spying. And none of them require justifying herself to Kat Bennett. 
 
Twenty-five-year-old Kat has never known a place where she felt truly at home, and crumbling Shelley House is no different. Her neighbors find her prickly and unapproachable, but beneath her tough exterior, Kat’s plagued by a guilty secret from her past.
 
When their apartments face demolition, sworn enemies Kat and Dorothy agree on just one thing: they must save their historic building. But when someone plays dirty—and one of the residents is viciously taken down—Dorothy and Kat seek justice. The police close the investigation too soon, leaving it up to the unlikely amateur sleuths—with a playful Jack Russell terrier at their side—to restore peace in their community.

Excerpt

One

Dorothy

Years later, when the residents of Shelley House looked back on the extraordinary events of that long, turbulent summer, they would disagree on how it all began. Tomasz in flat five said it started the day the letters arrived: six innocuous-looking brown envelopes that fell through the communal letterbox one Wednesday morning in May. Omar in flat three claimed the problems came a few weeks later when an ambulance pulled up in front of the building, its siren wailing, and the body was loaded into the back. And Gloria from flat six said her astrologer had told her way back in January there would be drama and destruction in her near future (and, more importantly, that she'd be engaged by Christmas).

But for Dorothy Darling, flat two, there was never any question of when the trouble began. She could pinpoint the exact moment when everything changed: the single flap of a butterfly's wing that would eventually lead to the tornado that engulfed them all.

It was the day the girl with pink hair arrived at Shelley House.


That morning had started out like any other. Dorothy was woken at six thirty by thumping from the flat overhead. She lay in bed for several minutes, her eyes squeezed shut as she chased the last shadows of her dream. When she could put it off no longer, she rose, her knees clicking obstinately as she moved through to the bathroom to perform her morning ablutions. In the kitchen, Dorothy lit the stove with a match and did her morning stretches while she waited for an egg to boil and her pot of English breakfast tea to steep. Once they were ready, she carried a tray through to the drawing room, where she consumed breakfast sitting at a card table in the bay window. So far, so normal.

As she ate, Dorothy observed her neighbors depart the building. 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 after his daughter, oblivious. Dorothy reached for the diary and pencil she kept near at all times.

7:48 a.m. O.S. (3) Erroneous rubbish disposal.

Once the morning rush hour had passed, Dorothy washed up her crockery, dressed, brushed her long silver hair, and put on her string of pearls. She was back at the window by eight fifty, just in time to see the redheaded woman from flat six departing hand-in-hand with her current paramour, a tall, bovine man in a cheap leather jacket. After that there was a lull and Dorothy changed the beds and dusted the picture frames and objets on the mantelpiece, accompanied by Wagner's Götterdämmerung to block out the din from the flat above.

And then, a little after ten, she was brewing her second pot of tea when she heard a tremendous bang from outside. Dorothy abandoned the kettle and rushed to the front window, where she watched an old, ramshackle blue car pull up in front of the building, its rear wheel mounting the curb. A great cloud of black smoke burped from the exhaust pipe as the engine puttered out, and a moment later the door opened and the driver emerged. It was a young person who looked to be somewhere in their twenties, although at first glance, Dorothy was unsure if it was a man or a woman. They had short, unkempt hair dyed a lurid neon pink and were dressed in a pair of dungarees of the sort one might expect a laborer on a building site to wear. The youth did not seem to have any kind of coat or knitwear, despite it being unseasonably cool for early May, and Dorothy could see tattoos snaking up their arms like graffiti. The person reached into the back seat of the car and heaved out a large, well-worn backpack, then kicked the door shut, causing the vehicle to shake precariously. It was only when they turned to face Shelley House that Dorothy realized she was looking at a young woman.

The girl's face gave nothing away as she surveyed the building, but Dorothy could imagine her taking it in with a mixture of apprehension and awe. After all, one did not come across dwellings like Shelley House every day. Built during the reign of Queen Victoria and named after the English Romantic poet, its broad façade was a mixture of precise red brickwork and embossed white masonry, topped by an ornate balustrade. Wide stone steps led up to the imposing front door, over which the words SHELLEY HOUSE, 1891 were engraved in Gothic script. Impressive bay windows framed the door on the first two floors, while the highest floor-once the servants' quarters before the building was converted into flats-had smaller, rectangular dormer windows. Dorothy could still remember the first time she had seen the building herself; how she had stopped in the middle of the pavement and stared, mouth agape, marveling at its grandeur and history. It was the most beautiful house she had ever seen, and Dorothy had pledged there and then that it would become her home. Thirty-four years later, it still was.

The pink-haired girl continued regarding the building, and as her eyes swept along the ground floor they seemed to pause for a moment on Dorothy's window. Dorothy instinctively drew back, even though she knew nobody could see her through the net curtain. Still, she found her heart beating a little faster as she watched the young woman climb the steps and disappear from view at the front door. Who was she coming to visit in the middle of the working day? Perhaps the uncouth new tenant in flat four? Dorothy waited to hear the sound of a distant bell ringing and was therefore utterly confounded when she heard the unfamiliar chime of her own. Good gracious, it was for her! Should she answer it? It had been a long time since Dorothy had had a caller, and the girl hardly looked trustworthy. Perhaps she was one of those scoundrels who preyed on vulnerable elderly people, tricking her way into their homes, robbing them, and then leaving them for dead? Of course, Dorothy was neither vulnerable nor stupid enough to fall for such a trick, but this young rapscallion was not to know that. Should she fetch a knife from the kitchen drawer, just in case?

The bell sounded again, jolting Dorothy. She reached for her pencil-the nib was sharp enough to be used as a weapon, if circumstances required-and moved to her front door. Some years earlier, a previous landlord had installed an overly elaborate entry system whereby when someone rang her bell, a video appeared on a little screen by her door, showing Dorothy who was there and even allowing her to speak to them before she "buzzed" them in. Dorothy had been horrified by it, even when the engineer insisted that the video was one-way and the person outside could not see her. Now she lowered her face so that her nose was almost touching the screen. It showed a grainy black-and-white image of the woman, who was chewing a fingernail as she waited for an answer. What could she possibly want?

The bell sounded a third time, a longer, more persistent ring. Dorothy cleared her throat before she pressed the button labeled intercom.

"Who are you and what do you want from me?" She had to shout to be heard above the third act of Götterdämmerung, which was still playing in the background.

"I've come about the room."

Dorothy frowned. "You must be mistaken. There is no room here, I assure you."

She heard an audible sigh through the intercom. "Has it gone already? You could have let me know; I've driven all the way here especially."

Dorothy bristled at the girl's impertinent tone. "Then you can go back whence you came. And take that menace of a car with you."

Even on the tiny monitor, Dorothy could see a flash of anger in the girl's face.

"It is parked illegally," Dorothy clarified.

The visitor did not even look back at the vehicle. "No, it's not."

"Yes, it is. Your rear wheel is mounted on the curb, in contravention of Rule 244 of the Highway Code. So unless you move it, I may be forced to telephone the council."

The girl let out a sound somewhere between a laugh and a snort. "Wow, you sound like a right barrel of laughs. Maybe I dodged a bullet after all."

Dorothy had no idea what bullet the girl was referring to, but before she could say something suitably caustic she saw the youth turn and start down the steps, without so much as a thank-you or good-bye.

Dorothy stepped back from the door in triumph. She had no doubt that the girl had intended to ring for flat one, whose ghastly tenant made a habit of illegally subletting his second room. Dorothy had reported him to the building's landlord on three separate occasions, but so far there appeared to have been no obvious sanctions. Still, she took some satisfaction in having thwarted this particular attempt. Standards in Shelley House might have been slipping for years, but she could quite do without that disrespectful young hoodlum living across the hallway.

Dorothy glanced toward her diary on the table. She should write this interaction up now, while it was still fresh in her mind.

10:17 a.m. Impertinent pink-haired caller mistakenly enquiring about room. Educated her on Highway Code and sent her away.

But that could wait. More pressing at this moment was the abandoned pot of tea in need of resuscitation. Dorothy returned to the kitchen, accompanied by the soaring notes of Wagner's Brunhilda riding to her death in the flames.

Two

Kat

Kat opened the boot of the car and chucked her bag in, slamming the lid shut. What a waste of time that had been. She'd even texted last night to make sure the room was still available and had been reassured it was. Now she'd lost a whole morning driving here when she could have been searching for a room and job elsewhere. Kat had been wary about coming back to Chalcot in the first place; perhaps this was a sign she shouldn't be here after all these years? She yanked the driver's door open with force, grimacing as it gave a wail of protest.

"Sorry, Marge," she muttered, patting the frame. The last thing she needed was the car giving up on her today as well.

Kat climbed into the driver's seat as gently as possible, but as she was about to close the door, she heard someone shout her name. She glanced back at the building to see a white-haired man standing in the open doorway, waving in her direction.

"Hello? Are you Kat?"

She nodded but stayed where she was.

"Don't tell me you've made up your mind already?" The man gave her a crooked smile.

Was this some kind of a joke? Kat began to close the door again.

"I know it doesn't look like much from out here, but the room is lovely," he called. "You should come and take a look before you write it off completely."

He was still smiling at her hopefully. Kat opened the door and spoke slowly and loudly in case he had trouble understanding.

"Your wife told me the room has gone already."

The man frowned. "My wife?"

"Yes. She said there was no room."

He paused for a moment and Kat felt a tug of sympathy. The poor thing really was confused if he couldn't even remember his own wife. Then he grinned, his eyes crinkling.

"Oh dear, I think you may have rung the wrong buzzer! Don't worry, you're not the first."

Now it was Kat's turn to frown. "So is the room available?"

"It most certainly is. Come on in and I'll show it to you."

He stood back from the front door, holding it open for her, but Kat remained in the car. Did she really want to stay here? She could still remember the building vividly from her childhood. Whenever she'd been sent to live with her grandfather, Kat used to walk past Shelley House to get from his farm on the outskirts of the village to Chalcot Primary School. Back then, the other kids used to say that the creepy, crumbling old house was home to a wicked witch who locked children in the attic, and so Kat used to speed up whenever she passed in case the witch tried to kidnap her too.

She scanned her eyes over it now. Kat was no longer scared of child-eating witches, but there was still something eerie about Shelley House. The brickwork was faded and crumbling, the window frames warped and peeling, like something from a horror movie. Bits of the stone balustrade were missing from the roof, and the whole structure seemed to tilt ominously to one side. If this was what it looked like on the outside, God knows what state it must be inside. No wonder the rent on the room was so cheap; Kat couldn't imagine anyone willingly choosing to live here.

The man was still standing in the doorway, watching her. Above his head she could see the building name engraved into the stone. Since she'd last been here someone had vandalized it so that rather than reading SHELLEY HOUSE it now said HELL HOUSE. Kat couldn't help smiling at this, and the man grinned back at her.

"Come on, then! I've just put the kettle on."

What the heck? She'd come all this way; she might as well take a look at the place that had scared her so much as a kid. She climbed out of Marge, taking care to close the door softly.

When she reached the top of the steps, the man held out his hand.

"Joseph Chambers. Pleased to meet you."

"Kat Bennett," she said, keeping her own hands in her pockets.

She followed him inside, the door slamming heavily behind them. There was no natural light in here, and it took a moment for Kat's eyes to adjust to the gloom. When they did, she saw that she was in an unremarkable entrance hall. Black-and-white checkered floor tiles hinted at the building's grander past, but now the space seemed to largely be a dumping ground for unwanted possessions. There were piles of unopened post on a shelf, and from somewhere farther up the building Kat heard the sound of drum and bass music, but there were no other signs of life. Two unmarked doors led off either side of the hall and Kat looked between them.

Reviews

“Touching, entertaining, and deeply compassionate, Nosy Neighbors is a tribute to the power of unexpected community and a portrait of two women who take the risk of healing.”–Shelf Awareness

“Freya Sampson is a master at creating complicated, nuanced characters you care deeply about and Nosy Neighbors is no exception! While a mystery is the central engine of the book, the true story lies in the mundane lives of the residents of Shelley House and the pain each person carries within them. A fun and beautiful book about the devastating power secrets can have on our lives and the many ways community can help you heal.”–Mia P. Manansala, author of the Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Award-winning Arsenic and Adobo
 
“Sampson delivers a lovely cozy crime mystery! A pair of mismatched sleuths cleverly unite their mistrustful London apartment building community in a story of found family that brims over with warmth and charm.”—USA Today bestselling author Sherry Thomas
 
“Nosy Neighbors is addictive reading. Freya Sampson has a wonderful talent for creating characters that feel vividly true to life, and it really shines here. This warm and moving novel is layered with mystery, emotion, and heart as it explores its powerful themes of guilt and community. I just know readers are going to love it as much as I do."—India Holton, author of The Secret Service of Tea and Treason
 
“A fun, heartwarming community caper, this book reminds us that while we can't choose our neighbors, we often end up with exactly the ones we need—even if they infuriate us at first.”—Mikki Brammer, author of The Collected Regrets of Clover
 
“A sweet, uplifting story that explores how a group of strangers can ultimately become a community—and perhaps solve a mystery or two along the way!”—Nikki Erlick, author of The Measure

"Nosy Neighbors is an utterly adorable novel filled with heart and mystery. Freya Sampson gets better and better."New York Times bestselling author Clare Pooley

"Freya Sampson never fails to make me cry in the best possible way, and Nosy Neighbors is no exception. While the characters try to solve a mystery in their quest to save their beloved home, it becomes apparent that the real mystery is how they ended up in that situation in the first place--a mystery Sampson slowly unravels with the utmost care for their humanity and abundant charm. It's impossible not to root for Dorothy, Kat, and even Shelley House itself."—Tori Anne Martin, USA Today bestselling author of This Spells Disaster
 
Nosy Neighbors is a real hug of a book, full of dynamic characters, intrigue, courage and kindness. I loved it!”—Hazel Prior, bestselling author of How the Penguins Saved Veronica

"Touching and thrilling all at once. I loved this clever mystery about friendship, loss and the power of community. Highly recommended!"—Tess Amy, author of The Confidence Games

“The ultimate cozy mystery...if you love “Only Murders in the Building,” you’ll love this”—theSkimm

"A story that will make you laugh, make you try to guess whodunnit, and also feels like a warm hug!"

“Sampson (The Lost Ticket, 2022) once again presents a charming story about intergenerational friendship leading to healing...This heartwarming tale is full of subtle humor and rich characters.”—Booklist

"The tenants are as crafty and charming as the house in this all's-well-that-ends-well tale."—Kirkus

Author

© David Levenson
Freya Sampson is the USA Today bestselling author of The Last Chance Library and The Lost Ticket. She studied history at Cambridge University and worked in television as an executive producer, making documentaries on everything from the British royal family to neighbors from hell. She lives in London with her husband, children, and cats. View titles by Freya Sampson