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Strangers at the Gate

3.40  ·  Rating details ·  500 ratings  ·  109 reviews
From the Agatha-award winning author of Quiet Neighbors comes a twisty, fascinating standalone that begs the question: how well can we ever know the people around us?

When Finn and Paddy decide to move from their home in the city to the small town of Simmerton, it feels like everything has finally fallen into place. Paddy's been made partner at the law firm in town, and Fi
Hardcover, 355 pages
Published October 22nd 2019 by Minotaur Books (first published September 5th 2019)
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Average rating 3.40  · 
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 ·  500 ratings  ·  109 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Two days. That's how long it took me to inhale this book. It has been quite a while since I had a book I didn't want to put down. At the beginning of this year I made the decision to stop reading psychological thrillers. There are only so many plots that can be duplicated in a different manner and they all began to blend together. I did keep a few notable authors on my list, those for whom I would make an exception. McPherson, is one such author and again she did not disappoint. Her books are or ...more
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Turned the creep factor up to 11!

Dirty deeds, a foreboding atmosphere and a bevy of eccentrics made for an eerily good read. What starts as a slow burn thriller with a bit of a cozy mystery vibe soon turns into a many layered plot of deception, every revelation turns the previous upside down and the red herrings are more the size of trout. And all of it takes place over one week’s time.

A cleverly constructed plot and writing that makes you feel every chill and bump in the night ramps up the drea
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’ve only read one other book by this author and I enjoyed it so much I’ve added many of her other writings to my already mountainous TBR pile. She has a way of writing that trips you up through the whole story. Thinking you’ve got it all figured out. No, you don’t! And if all her stories run like that, I’m in for the ride. If you want twisty, it’s there. If you want questionable characters, that’s there too. The descriptions of scenes - the darkness, the damp, the overgrown cemetery with the ru ...more
Catriona McPherson is a born storyteller. She can no sooner stop from spellbinding readers with her writing than she can from entertaining them when she speaks. I've often wondered if she was born with a story flying out of her mouth instead of a cry. She creates the tales that grip a reader and haunt their dreams. Could a story be any better than that? Of course not. McPherson's latest thriller, Strangers at the Gate, is as chilling as the cold, wet weather that blows through the hollow of its ...more
The Nerd Daily
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Marla Warren

For those of us who get frustrated because we tend to figure out the twists and secrets far too early in a story, Catriona McPherson’s Strangers At The Gate may be the book you have been looking for! The twists and turns just keep coming. Every time you think you are a step ahead; you may find you are already a step behind.

The story begins as Finn, a deacon in the Church of Scotland, and her attorney-husband, Paddy, unexpectedly find
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This one was just what I needed, an excellent read. Not an easy read, but an excellent read. There's just enough dialect placements that at times I thought a sentence or two was a word salad. But with all the various high tension situations and secret keeping of every sense of nuance going on- it was a sensational read overall. No more so than for a mid-winter snow and fog storm hiatus. It was a perfect book to read during such a spell- thank you, Diane.

Having read one other by this author I wa
Nov 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I have a love hate thing going on with this book. It has a real creepy Ruth Ware vibe which I love, but I think I was so tripped up by the Scottish colloquialisms that I had a hard time following much of the story. I also think that the character development was lacking depth and that made things even more convoluted. It was hard to track with Finnie as she gained insight because she never spelled out what she was seeing...except those bodies. That said, it was pretty easy to spot the 'bad-guys' ...more
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
I've read three of the author's novels; I enjoyed Quiet Neighbors the most and this one, the least. The book is disjointed, not straightforward; she introduces a lot of loose ends in the plot and a lot of characters, some of whom seem to have little to do with the story, and then tries to tie it all up in the last ten pages. The protagonist was confused and the villainy was implausible because the reader had no hints at all about motive, justification, character... anything, really. As a result, ...more
Nov 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Finn and Paddy have an offer they can't turn down. Picking up their lives, they move to a small town. Paddy is a partner at a law-firm and Finn has found full-time work as a deacon. Paddy's boss has even offered them to stay in the gate house. All of it is a fairy-tale for them. But, things quickly get weird as Finn starts to hear strange noises and only gets worse when they discover the bodies of Paddy's boss and his wife. Their fairy tale life quickly takes a turn for the worst as things get m ...more
This review was first published on my blog:

When Finnie and Paddy Doyle are offered the golden opportunity of a new start, in a new place, they jump at the chance. It would seem that lady luck has favoured them. They both have new jobs and a cottage as well. Paddy is over the moon at their new circumstances while city girl Finnie is less enthusiastic.

Their cottage, a gate house, starts to unnerve Finnie with its strange nocturnal noises and remote location.

They are invi
Donna Hines
Oct 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Bizarre. Freaky. Unique. Chilling to the bone.
Cemetery walks are not my cup of tea but neither is the entire setting on this one as it has that air of mystery, intrigue, and bizarre coincidences that are simply too good or too bad to be true.
This perfect life seemed to have fallen into this couples life from the fab new jobs for both of them to the new rental and location to the outpouring of neighborly support.
Until one day an item is left behind, Finn goes to retrieve it, and low and behold un
Lori Rader-Day
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2019
I read an early copy. Read it OBSESSIVELY, I should say. Couldn't put it down and missed the protagonist when it was over.
Empress Reece (Hooked on Books)
3.5 stars

Good mystery with plenty of twists but some of the dumb decisions the characters made didn't feel all that natural to me. They felt more like clumsy plot devices that weren't as refined as they should have been. All in all though, not a bad story for some reading entertainment but could use a little polishing.

*I received this ARC from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Mortisha Cassavetes
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2019
This was a twisty mystery that I just loved. I never knew the "who done it" until the very end and I never expected it at all. The story follows Finn and Paddy, a married couple, that move to a small country town for a job change. Paddy, an attorney, was offered a partnership in a law firm and his wife, Finn, was offered the job of deacon for the local church. Finn is a bit spooked by living in the country instead of the city life she is accustomed too but is learning to deal with the things tha ...more
Addie BookCrazyBlogger
Nov 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
This was a struggle to read and to be perfectly honest, I almost DNF. However, since this was an ARC, I decided to read on. What I liked about the novel was the description of Scotland and the Scottish slang. That was it. That’s the only reason I liked the book. However, the characters had no depth and key plot lines or character details were only briefly mentioned but were then forgotten about or never explained fully. I felt like I was reading a really bad play, that’s super melodramatic but m ...more
emily ‧͙⁺˚*・༓☾
2.5 stars but let's say 3. This was an okay but sometimes confusing read, I did like reading the last few chapters when everything started to unravel but is this worth reading? My opinion would be no but that's just me lol.
Kris - My Novelesque Life
2019; St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books
(Review Not on Blog)

I found this one to be a bit of a slower start and there were a few sections it seemed to drag on a bit. I liked the tone of Gothic-mystery, but I found the unraveling of the mystery a bit too much. It seemed like it was more tangled than not, and a bit out there. This is my first novel by the author and I would like to read another book soon.

***I received an eARC from NETGALLEY***
Oct 30, 2019 marked it as to-read
Strangers at the Gate by Catriona McPherson is a chilly, creepy mystery. Finn and her husband Paddy seem to have just had the perfect situation both with new jobs and being offered to stay at the gate house of Paddy's new employer. But of course, nothing can be that perfect when it comes to a mystery novel! This book starts out with a bang when Paddy and Finn find the bodies of their new neighbors/employers dead in the kitchen. It goes on from there with the crazy decision of Paddy and Finn not ...more
Strangers at the Gate is the first book I’ve read by Catriona McPherson and it won’t be the last. It’s twisty and atmospheric, dark and suspenseful! I thought I had it all figured out until I figured out that I didn’t. I love a book that has the ability to keep me speculating until the very end.

When Paddy comes home to tell Finn of a wonderful opportunity in the quaint little town of Simmerton, Finn has doubts. First off, everything seems to fall into place a little too seamlessly. Paddy is offe
Criminal Element
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Strangers at the Gate by Catriona McPherson is a twisty, fascinating mystery that asks the question: Who do you turn to when everyone’s a stranger and you’ve stopped believing your own eyes?

Finn and Paddy Lamb know they’ve hit the jackpot when they each—he a lawyer, she a deacon—get plumb job offers in the prosperous Scottish village of Simmerton. And the dream jobs aren’t all they’re getting: Paddy’s new boss, Lovatt Dudgeon, also offers them his gatehouse for a pittance of rent.
Looking back, i
Kristin (Always With a Book)
Last year I read, and loved, Go to My Grave, by Catriona McPherson. It was the first book I had read by this author and I knew it would not be the last. It was the type of book that keeps you fully engaged, frantically flipping the pages, trying to piece together what is happening. This latest book is much the same but with a different spin.

Once again, Catriona McPherson has crafted one heck of a dark and atmospheric book that just took my breath away when all was said and done. This time around
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
solid 4 stars

As of late, I have been drawn to mystery books, and when I could not borrow a Tana French audiobook, I decided to give Catriona McPherson's Strangers at the Gate a try. I am so glad that I did.

The book is well-written and descriptive -- without falling into the trap of bogging down the reader with too much unnecessary description. There is a dark, moodiness to the book, and I plan to read more of McPherson's work.

Also, Lucy Paterson did an excellent narration.
Jun 08, 2020 rated it liked it
This book was a pretty compelling read from the start--Finnie Doyle and Paddy Lamb are leaving busy Edinburgh behind to live in a little country town. Paddy has been made partner at the law firm there and Finnie has landed a nice job as a deacon for the local church. From their first night being invited over to Paddy's new boss's house for dinner, however, things start to go wrong. And strange. And they only get stranger. But Wow. It would be hard to come up with a stranger and darker final plot ...more
Jasmine (Readingonsundays)
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this read. It was a thriller that kept me asking all the questions until the very end. I began piecing things together but at the same time didn't see the twist ending coming. I kept asking how and why???? I also really enjoyed how Padfy and Finnie were polar opposites in she is a Deacon and he is a lawyer giving them different beliefs and moral compasses. It was all very interesting how it came together in the end and I highly recommend this read.
Keenan Powell
City mice Finn and her husband Paddy landed their dream jobs in a tiny Scottish village. Finn's not so sure - it's too good to be true. The quaint college, rent free. The quirky neighbors. The over-friendly larger-than-life boss and wife. Then a grisly find leads to ever-darkening discoveries. Creepy old houses. Creeky gates. A horrific legacy. A lively-read story I could not stop listening to, an audio page-turner.
Mac Daly
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
How can you discover the truth when everyone has a secret? When husband and wife Paddy and Finny are offered dream jobs in a charming Scottish village, it seems too good to be true. When they make a terrible discovery on their first night there, they find that saying is true. A series of poor decisions draws them deeper into the mystery and threatens to drive them apart. It's a dark mystery that will keep you guessing up to the end.
Nov 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-books
Creepy but a little too ridiculous for me.
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Full review can be found here: ...more
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019
Well you know you did not enjoy a book when you can't wait for it to be done and you are completely unfazed by all the twists happening in the end.

The story starts in a promising way, two people move in a new location where they got some great jobs, but then they discover some people were killed and instead of doing the right thing and call the police, they suspect it was suicide and they want to leave someone else find the bodies and report it. And from here it just goes down hill with all the
Eleanora Just
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
I would pick this up and then have a hard time putting it down. However, I'm pretty intelligent and I'm STILL not sure wtf was happening in this book. I saw 95% of the twists coming by the end of chapter 3 and yet the last two chapters of "JUST KIDDING IT'S KIND OF THAT TWIST BUT DOUBLE TWISTED" were very rushed and not at all clear. And it wasn't in a "You're not supposed to get it" way. It was just not handled well.
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aka Catriona McCloud

Catriona McPherson was born in South Queensferry. After finishing school, she worked in a bank for a short time, before going to university. She studied for an MA in English Language and Linguistics at Edinburgh University, and then gained a job in the local studies department at Edinburgh City Libraries. She left this post after a couple of years, and went back to university t

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