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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Book Review: The Kindness of Neighbors (A Short Story) by Matthew Iden

This is a short, gripping mystery with a punch at the end. Well done!
The Kindness of Neighbors (A Short Story)
by Matthew Iden

  • File Size: 1372 KB
  • Print Length: 50 pages
  • Publisher: StoryFront (April 9, 2014)
Genre: Mystery
My Rating: 4.5 of 5.0

Book Description
Publication Date: April 9, 2014
No one likes Jack. His wife is gone and his neighbors avoid him. He's a recluse and a creep, and that's just the way he wants it; he can ignore what they say behind his back if they leave him to his work and his daily walks. But when ten-year-old Emma goes missing in the nearby woods, the eyes of his neighbors turn toward him, their fear and accusations escalating as the days go by. Jack proclaims his innocence, but what the neighbors--and the reader--find out is the last thing anyone would suspect.
Previously published as Finding Emma.

Jack lives alone and secluded as a single man in a family neighborhood. Even before his wife, Susan, left him they were not really part of the 'family with kids' group. Jack works at home on his computer as a freelance illustrator. This allows him time to run chores on his own schedule when he can avoid crowds and neighbors. He can also go out for solitary walks in the nearby wooded preserve.

Jack realizes that neighbors perceive him as a recluse and maybe even creepy. This perception really hits home when a small girl, Emma, goes missing. At first Jack reluctantly joins the search. He is a little annoyed by the resentment he feels when some families treat his dinner time knock as an intrusion. Then neighbors, and especially Emma’s parents, become suspicious of him when they find Emma’s bike and dark chalk drawings on the sidewalk near his house.

Jack tries to cooperate with the police questioning but he is tense and offended by their accusatory attitude. He becomes more estranged when his offer to help in the continued search is rejected as it is clear that he is becoming a suspect. Jack ends up having a fight with Emma’s rampaging and trespassing father but his actions afterward were puzzling to me as I thought “This could really look bad for him later. What is he thinking?”

Matthew Iden’s writing includes descriptions which I enjoy as being crisp and natural to the setting and circumstance. I was pulled into the eerie, creepy sensations and the awkward difficulty that Jack faced as a suspect trying to prove he wasn’t involved with Emma’s disappearance. It made me wonder how many of us know our neighbors and how we are perceived in our neighborhoods.  It made me grimace and smile at the same time when I hit the ending which has a surprise (think Edgar Allan Poe eerie) twist!

This is a fast, gripping and entertaining read. I recommend it to mystery lovers, and others, who enjoy a quick read, good writing and an ironic ending. This is the second story I have enjoyed by Mr. Iden and I will be glad to read more.

I received this title from the author for an honest review.

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