Fear Thy Neighbors
February 13, 2022

Book Review

Fear Thy Neighbors

reviewed by Cara DiCostanzo



“People have discovered that they can fool the devil; but they can’t fool the neighbors.” –Francis Bacon

Alison Marshall is a drifter, never staying in one place for very long. Having grown up in foster care, she spends her adult life moving from place to place as she grows tired of where she is. From the day after her graduation from high school, she has had only herself to rely on, taking odd jobs to make money. When she tires of her job at a Mexican restaurant in Florida, she decides to explore the keys. Luckily, she has invested her money wisely and has options open to her. 

On her way to the Florida Keys, she makes a stop at Palmetto Island, where she finds a cute inn called the Courtesy Court Motel. The small community draws her in, despite the sinister locals she comes across. While she only means to spend one night, she gets very sick suddenly, which she suspects might have to do with the owner of the cute inn. While browsing through the ads in the local newspaper, she sees a deal on a little yellow cottage on the beach and buys it outright. She doesn’t know the house already has a history. She learns of talks of cults, pedophiles, strange people, and the human bone she found while digging in her property. Alison has always depended on herself, not getting close to other people. All of that changes when she settles in Palmetto Island, but strange things continue to happen around her. What are her neighbors hiding? Did she make a mistake buying this house?

This was my very first Fern Michaels novel, so I was excited to dig in. I found the author’s writing style very easy to understand. I felt entertained, however; the plot was inconsistent and took away from the story. While the locals were cold to newcomers, I didn’t really understand their motives. Towards the end of the book, the author introduces Kit, a New York Times reporter, and Alison, always suspicious, seems to accept him right away, even going as far as to invite him to her neighbor’s house. There are some twists and turns and lots of pleasant tension that sets the pace of the story and keeps the reader engaged. While the revelations at the end are interesting, they leave the reader wanting more. As my first book by this author, I enjoyed Fear Thy Neighbor and the character of Alison. She was scrappy, smart, and likable. I wish the other characters were as well-developed. I would enjoy reading another book by this author.

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