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Strangers at the Gate

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  96 ratings  ·  37 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 Finnof
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published October 22nd 2019 by Minotaur Books (first published September 5th 2019)
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Average rating 3.76  · 
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 ·  96 ratings  ·  37 reviews

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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
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.
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
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. P
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
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
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.
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Full review can be found here:
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. ...more
Jani Brooks
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Simmerton, Scotland

Life just got magically better for Paddy Lamb and Finnie Doyle. Wed just a year, Paddy comes home one day bristling with news. He's been accepted as a partner in a small law firm in the tiny town of Simmerton, and he's managed to get Finnie a position as a church deacon in the same place. At first, Finnie (who is telling this story) is thrilled, although she has questions about a few things. Still, it's a fantastic opportunity and they pack up their Edinburgh apart
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Catriona McPherson's books have consistently chilled and intrigued me. Strangers at the Gate makes the fifth of her intense mystery/thrillers that I've read. Each one is a stand-alone, which is unusual for such a prolific writer.

Strangers at the Gate proves the old axiom "Too good to be true."

Paddy's new job results in a new job for Finn, and the rent free gate house on the boss's estate is an added bonus. Paddy is enthusiastic, Finn less so, but when opportunity knocks, turning dow
Jill Elizabeth
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a strange read from start to finish. That is not a bad thing at all, but there were a number of times where I shook my head or rolled my eyes at the behavior of the characters, wondering why on Earth they were doing the things they were doing and where the story was going to go - but for all that, I was engaged throughout and couldn't stop reading. I put that down to McPherson's writing ability, she tells a very compelling story and paints very vivid pictures even when not seeming too. ...more
The Booked Mama
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Paddy & Finnie have just been offered the jobs they have always dreamed of, a partnership for Paddy at a small law firm and a full-time deaconship for Finnie. Along with the jobs, Paddy has been offered a small cottage on the property of his new boss, Lovett Dudgeon, rent free. After settling in, Finnie begins to question the decision they made moving to Simmerton. Their new home is dark and isolated and she has been hearing things in the woods. On Monday evening Paddy and Finnie are invited ...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
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
Jenna Mahoney
Oct 22, 2019 marked it as to-read
At the beginning of the novel, Finnie and Paddy receive the news of a lifetime -- Paddy's been made partner at a law firm in the small town of Simmerton, and Finnie lands a job as the church deacon. As part of the deal, they are allowed to stay in a quaint gate cottage (rent free!) from Paddy's new bosses, Lovett and Tuft Dudgeon.

Once they arrive in Simmerton, Finnie begins to hear strange sounds and feels completely unnerved. However, her worries are put at ease during a dinner with the Dudgeo
Arianna  Mclaughlin (arianna.reads)
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, oct-19
Strangers at the Gate is my first read by McPherson and consider me a new fan.

This is a dark and atmospheric mystery. Think Agatha Christie. You have a eerie setting, creepy neighbours and a whole lot of secrets in the small town of Simmerton and between our main characters, narrator Finnie and her husband Paddy.

The novel starts with a bang- the apparent murder/suicide of Paddy’s new boss and his wife and then slowly builds the suspense, adding layers with each chapter and teasing out secrets.
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
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
Nov 01, 2019 rated it liked it
The central character is a deacon in a new church married to an attorney who brought her to the town as he becomes a partner in a law firm. When they discover the principal of the law firm and his wife dead in their kitchen, the couple struggle to figure out how they died, why they died and who may have been involved. With a lot of twists and turns, the mystery spins along but I had to really suspend my disbelief at some of the plot twists. Spoiler alert: his mother’s assistance with his story s ...more
Luanne Clark
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Strangers At The Gate
Catriona McPherson

I found a new author! This was a good, well-plotted, suspenseful, twisty, atmospheric, stand-alone Scottish mystery. Paddy and Finn move to a new town when Paddy is offered a partnership in a law firm there. On the evening of the day of their arrival they are invited to dinner by Paddy’s boss at his home. On their way home after a nice evening Finney realizes she’s left her purse and returns to retrieve it. What greets her in the kitchen o
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another thumping good read from Catriona. In addition to the intriguing tale of murder and assorted wrongdoings, the Finnie's back story, going from a Catholic childhood to a deacon in the Church of Scotland, added much to the book's ability to make me ponder things: religion, spirituality, my childhood saints.

This is a page turner with a nice twist at the end, and Catriona creates an atmosphere that I could taste and smell and feel as I turned the virtual pages far into the night. If you are l
November Is Nyarlathotep The Haunted Reading Room
Totally wow! I don't know how this accomplished author kept straight this sizable cast of characters or the multiplicity of red herrings, but the result is an incredibly amazing novel. I couldn't tear my eyes from the page nor rest till I achieved the ending. Any reader who can puzzle it out in advance has my admiration. I only guessed at one small aspect. If this novel was a Medieval Morality play instead of a psychological thriller, its Cautionary theme would be:
Be Careful of What You Wish.
Oct 14, 2019 rated it liked it
3 1/2 stars. A murder mystery with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing all the way to the end. Finn and Paddy, married only a short time, move to their new jobs in a small town. He’s a lawyer; she’s a deacon. They each have secrets in their past that they haven’t revealed to each other. Shortly after they arrive at their new home, Paddy’s boss and wife are murdered. And the plot begins.
Kori Howell
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, thriller
This story was non-stop from the very beginning. I did not see the twist coming at the end, but it seemed rushed and I would have enjoyed a bit more background. As it stood, the ending was a little unbelievable since the guilty party just spilled every detail of the crime and that would likely not happen in real life - as not the way it happened in this book. However, it was still a good story and I loved the pace. It never went into a lulled state.
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was my first read by this author and I was impressed. A creeping dread fills this.novel for the first 2/3 followed by a resolution that clips along at a good pace to tie up the many threads that make up the narrative. It was complicated enough to keep me guessing, but grounded enough to feel realistic. I would recommend this title to those who enjoyed "We Have Always Lived in the Castle".

Netgalley provided me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Larry Fontenot
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book had a bit too many twists for me to completely enjoy it. The narrative was fun, but I really did not like many of the characters, including the one who "survived" all the outrages. In the past I've enjoyed McPherson's stand alone books: As She Left it, The Quiet Neighbors, House Tree Person. I've not read any of the continuing series. But this seemed a bit out of sorts. Still, McPherson is an accomplished stylist and I plan to pursue her works.
Jasmine Charissa
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.
Renny Barcelos
Nov 11, 2019 rated it liked it
It's interesting, kept my attention and I liked the style but the plot… it was too melodramatic and unbelievable. I could not buy it at all, when everything is explained at the end. Sounded like a Mexican soap opera; they are enjoyable and entertaining, for sure, but all over the top and full of plot holes. 🤷🏻♂ ...more
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Surprising twists and turns will keep mystery readers engaged from the first page until the last. A tightly plotted tale that will keep you guessing, an inventive cast of characters, and a moody, stormy setting all add to the intrigue. Couldn't put it down!
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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