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A Crime in the Neighbourhood

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3.41  ·  Rating Details ·  1,398 Ratings  ·  162 Reviews
A seductive story of suspicion, fear and moral corruption, this is the tale of 10-year-old Marsha. Her life is in turmoil following the collapse of her parents' marriage, and the brutal murder of a local boy. When the shy bachelor from next door begins to take an interest in Marsha's mother, Marsha is drawn into a cruel spiral of events that quickly spins out of control. ' ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 6th 1999 by Penguin (first published January 6th 1997)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Carol
While I was reading this book, I kept having to remind myself that it was a novel and not a true story. Berne drew me right into the story from the get-go, and I had to keep flipping back to the front cover to assure myself of the fact that the book was indeed a novel.
Paul
Aug 12, 2012 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
You know you're getting on a bit when a novel set in the early 1970s can be described as a period piece! This is set in suburban Washington DC in 1972/3 around the time Watergate was developing. It won the Orange prize in 1999 and has been compared to To Kill a Mockingbird and Hitchcock's Rear Window. Don't get either of these comparison's, because in my opinion it is not that good.
The story is narrated by nine year old Marsha, looking back as an adult. Marsha, it soon becomes clear is a specta
...more
Rebecca McNutt
This book is not only a powerful crime novel, but also a nostalgic trip down memory lane that follows a character coping with the horror that strikes the place they call home.
Jean
Jan 18, 2014 Jean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
A crime in the neighborhood. It's 1972, the year Nixon went to China and the Watergate burlary happened. And in a suburb of Washington, D.C., a 10-year-old boy is molested and killed in the woods behind a mall. The narrator is 10-year-old Marsha Eberhardt. She tells about the spring and summer of 1972, when her father left her mother to run off with her mother's sister, and a Mr. Green moves in across the street.
The language is fantastic; I could see and smell and hear the sounds of a summer ni
...more
Matthew
What's great about this book is the way it plays around with an unreliable narrator, something that's signalled right at the beginning of the novel. However I think that, although short, the book is too long for the story it contains and has to be padded out. This seems to be a result of the limitations the narrative perspective imposes-- if we can't know any more than the child, and she isn't well informed, then there isn't too much to tell. Also, the Nixon/family breakdown parallels are done i ...more
Lynn
Oct 16, 2016 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book because the voice is interesting and believable. The best thing about the book is the writing. The world is so closely observed and the narrator is really believable because of that. She does a good job of replicating the claustrophobic world of family and adolescence.
This book was recommended by a friend who knows I am working on/reading a lot of books that have to do with missing kids, etc.
This is definitely one of the best novels I've read about this phenomenon and
...more
Lisa
Jul 06, 2010 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: coming-of-age
In the summer of '72, in the D.C. suburbs, 10 year old Marsha tires to make sense of a word that is becoming increasingly uncertain. On a national level, and in her neighborhood, a boy is molested and murdered. Throughout the summer Marsha watches the building hysteria in the neighborhood, and record. There are so many great things about this book that I wish I could rave about it, but it left me lukewarm. What's right with it? The author has a good ear for dialogue. Her character development of ...more
Shirley Schwartz
I was disappointed with this book. It was listed as one of the top 10 crime novels by Kirkus Reviews, so I expected it to be good. It was OK, but not fantastic and the ending was left up in the air. The premise behind this book set in Washington DC in the 1970's is the effect that a murdered twelve-year-old child has on the entire neighbourhood. It was a hot summer in 1972 when young Boyd Ellison went missing. His body was found a day after, and the entire neightbourhood is put on an alert. It's ...more
Robert
May 08, 2016 Robert rated it it was amazing

I follow three literary prizes - The Man Booker, The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and The Baileys Women's Prize.

Man Booker - usually the winners are bona fide post modern classics BUT usually I tend to prefer the ones that don't win the actual prize.

Pulitzer - The winning novel is always good - the past ten years have been amazing.

However my absolute fave from these three is the Baileys. So far I have read 18 out of the 20 winners and only two disappointed me: Kate Grenvlle's The Idea of Perfecti
...more
Umarie Serrant
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Nancy
Mar 19, 2014 Nancy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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Kathryn
Nov 07, 2015 Kathryn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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Yogesh Sharma
Jul 27, 2016 Yogesh Sharma rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Felicia
Feb 24, 2013 Felicia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spring-2013
3.5/5 stars. The almost flash-back style of narration was a little off-putting and the casual way the narrator, as a child, reacted to the murder was very off-putting. The character of Marsha was just, overall, not someone I connected to over the course of the story. Basically none of my questions were answered by the end. It was an all right read, but not a fantasic one.
Anne Hawn Smith
Aug 10, 2010 Anne Hawn Smith rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I was disappointed in this book. It seemed more like a slice of life in a time period that seemed to be interesting, but the choices the characters make are unfortunate. I didn't find the characters particularly well developed and at times didn't act in character.
Marie
Jun 10, 2012 Marie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was drawn into this story by the wonderful description. I need an ending when I am drawn into a who did it mystery. While I didn't get this ending I was still left with a feeling of having read a great book.
elizabeth
I think I'm in this book! The story is set in the town where I grew up at around the time I was born. The author describes neighbors who are familiar to me (the English lady with Corgis, etc.) She describes a young mother with a crying baby- that's me!
Judith Shadford
This was a fascinating read (by one of the newest RWW faculty members), not least because I lived in suburban Washington DC during the period she records. Lotsa familiar sounds, humidity, clothes--all there, like looking through an album I had never kept. Beautifully crafted story.
Cynthia Sillitoe
Interesting, but halfway through, I realized I'd read it before, which makes it not very memorable. I wish the author had gone a little deeper into the characters.
Bamboozlepig
DNF. It started off well, but then petered out in the middle. The plot wandered between the divorce of Marsha's parents and the unrelated murder of a neighborhood boy. Marsha suspects a neighbor in the boy's death and goes to great lengths to prove he did it, including lying about things he said to her or things she witnessed him doing. Even though an investigation proves he's most likely innocent, she doesn't seem to have much remorse for ruining his life. So she came off as a selfish brat who ...more
Kim
Oct 31, 2016 Kim rated it really liked it
A well-written and engrossing tale of 10 year old Marsha living in a sedate Washington suburb whose life is suddenly turned upside down by the murder of a local boy and her father leaving home to live with another woman. As she tries to cope, Marsha begins to note down the comings and goings of her neighbours. But eventually even this is not enough for her and she makes accusations to the police which cause deep divisions in the neighbourhood and her own family. Great read - 8.5/10.
Erika
Jan 08, 2017 Erika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anne
Nov 26, 2016 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More of a study of family dysfunction than a mystery, but enjoyed the author's voice.
Jeana
Oct 12, 2016 Jeana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3-star-books
This book was sold to me as a mystery/crime novel. While technically it is a crime novel I feel it is an in depth character study on how people react to situations in their lives. MARSHA is the 9 year old unreliable narrator and there were times when I found myself wanting to yell at this child for the decisions she makes and the consequences. I enjoyed the 1972/3 timing and the author did a good job of setting the scene. All of the character are well drawn but there is not one Likeable characte ...more
Eva
May 29, 2014 Eva rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I can sum up the plot of this book in a brief paragraph:
(view spoiler)
...more
Karen Joyce Peper
Crime in the Neighborhood....

Wonderfully written. Copious character descriptors. Not a novel that's a page turner, but one that explores human nature microscopically. Lots of detail writing. Enjoyable read.
Dalì
Apr 28, 2016 Dalì rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Al contrario della maggior parte delle recensioni che scrivo, nelle quali la parte più facile è parlare della trama, e quella più difficile è spiegare cosa ne penso, qui sembra tutto il contrario: io stessa mi sono avventurata nella lettura senza sapere bene di cosa si trattasse. Sospettavo un giallo, dato l’omicidio, e l’ansia di scoprire il colpevole, sospetto alimentato dal fatto che Marsha, influenzata dalla lettura di Sherlock Holmes, comincia a raccogliere dettagli su tutto ciò che la circ ...more
Pamela Bayer
Sep 20, 2016 Pamela Bayer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in the early 1970's, during the Watergate scandal, this book focuses on a suburban neighborhood's experience of dealing with the aftermath of a young boy's murder. The narrator is a little girl in the same neighborhood, dealing with her own tragedies and learning to survive drastic changes in her life while the world around her is shifting with radical transitions, such as the end of Vietnam and political corruption, and sharing a sense of loss.
Jan
Sep 24, 2011 Jan rated it liked it
This book looked just right for the semi zonked out state I arrived home in after a twenty six hour flight so started reading it right away. It was a gripping read and a worthy winner of the Orange Prize; quite remarkable for a first novel although the author was an experienced writer of shorter items.

Marsha was an interesting narrator - although at times a very unlikeable one, as she sneaks around the neighbourhood, twisting the truth, making up blatant lies and never thinking of the consequenc
...more
Marguerite
Oct 27, 2009 Marguerite rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a surprise and a delight. A nice period piece about an era I remember well. Marsha, the narrator, is 10 when a murder happens in her suburban D.C. neighborhood. Around the same time, Marsha's dad runs off with his wife's sister. Her older twin siblings are off in a world of their own. A single man moves in next door. And, Marsha's mind draws cause-and-effect connections between the events, with ghastly results. Watergate and its lies form the backdrop. We occasionally hear from the adul ...more
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