Perfectly Nice Neighbors (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

“When your dream home comes with nightmare neighbors, how far will you go to keep your family safe?”

There is a lot to unpack in this roller-coaster of a thriller. In suburban England, Salma Khatun and her family of Bangladeshi heritage move into a more “comfortable” neighborhood. Everything is going smoothly until her teenage son, Zain, stakes a Black Lives Matter banner in their front lawn. Salma happens to be looking out the window when she sees next door neighbor, Tom, pull the banner from the ground and throw it on her lawn. Salma  immediately confronts Tom, who claims his action wasn’t racially motivated; it’s against HOA covenants to display flags or banners in the yards of the neighborhood. Salma moves Zain’s banner inside the home, to be displayed through the front window. The next morning the outside of her window has been smeared with paint, so the banner is no longer visible. And it begins…

Our characters are:

Salma Khatun. Is she over sensitive? Does she enjoy her victimhood? Is she intolerant of pretty, thin, blond, white women?

Bil Khatun, Salma’s husband. He had a restaurant that failed during the pandemic and is saddled with extensive debt. Is he capable? Is he supportive? Is he a “good immigrant”? 

Zain Khatun. Is he a troubled, angry teen? Is he too involved with social media? Is he a good friend to Jamie?

Tom Hutton. Is he a racist, or just an obsessive rule follower? Is he insensitive or just socially awkward?

Willa Hutton, Tom’s wife. Is she entitled? Is she true to Tom? Is she a good wife and mother when the chips are down?

Jamie Hutton, teenage son. He and Zain are good friends. But is he loyal? Is he selfish?

After the initial conflict, no one seems able to let things lie. After a volatile exchange is recorded and posted on social media the Khatuns and the Huttons are at war. Events escalate to include loss of employment, break-ins, squatting and vandalism, dog-napping, car-keying, false allegations of crime, swatting, bribery and payoffs, physical altercations, and attempted murder. Like I said…it’s a roller-coaster!

And while on this thrill ride, we are left to consider the motives and ethics of each of the characters. Maybe Tom is not insensitive, maybe he’s just impulsive. Maybe Salma is insensitive in her own right. Maybe Bil seems passive because his wife is overbearing. Maybe Willa has insecurities that nobody else can see. As the events escalate in dangerous magnitude, we want to jump in and say STOP! Somebody just STOP! Don’t retaliate! Tell the truth! Apologize! But that’s not what happens. By the end of our roller-coaster ride there has been a trial, punishment, and someone lies near death. The lives of the Khatuns and the Huttons have been irrevocably damaged. 

As our carnival car glides to a stop there are bombshells dropped in the final 20 pages of Perfectly Nice Neighbors that I guarantee you will not have seen coming. And the final paragraph? Why, that’s the biggest twist of all! 

Perfectly Nice Neighbors  is a great summer choice for thriller readers who like to think. Jump on the roller-coaster and remember: Stay seated and keep your arms and hands inside the ride at all times!

— Luanne Clark


“One of my ten best reads of the year. Easy five stars.” — Lisa Jewell, New York Times bestselling author of None of This is True

A twisty and consuming thriller, Perfectly Nice Neighbors asks: When your dream home comes with nightmare neighbors, how far will you go to keep your family safe?

    Salma Khatun is hopeful about Blenheim, the suburban development into which she, her husband, and their son have just moved. The Bangladeshi family needs a fresh start, and Blenheim feels like just the place.
    Soon after they move in, Salma spots her White neighbor, Tom Hutton, ripping out the anti-racist banner her son put in the front garden. Avoiding confrontation, Salma takes the banner inside and puts it in her window. But the next morning, she wakes up to find her window smeared with paint.
    When she does speak to Tom, battle lines are drawn between the two families. As racial and social tensions escalate and the stakes rise, it’s clear that a reckoning is coming . . .
    And someone is going to get hurt.

About the Author

Kia Abdullah is a bestselling author and travel writer. Her novels include Take It Back, which was a Guardian and Telegraph thriller of the year; Truth Be Told, which was shortlisted for the Diverse Book Awards; and Next of Kin, which was longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award and won the Adult Fiction Diverse Book Award in 2022. Abdullah has written for the New York Times, the Guardian, the Financial Times, The Times, and the BBC, and is the founder of Asian Booklist, a non-profit that advocates for diversity in publishing and helps readers discover new books by British Asian authors.

Praise For…

Featured on the New York Times Book Review’s Paperback Row
A September LibraryReads Pick
One of Country Living's 28 Best Fall Books to Put at the Top of Your Reading List
A Betches Best Book Of 2023 To Read If Your New Year Resolution Is Avoiding People
One of Bookish's Page-Turning Mysteries and Thrillers That Will Keep You Up All Night
Featured on Book Riot's Read or Dead Podcast
A GoodReads On-Trend Mystery/Thriller

“This twisty page-turner promises a jaw-dropping ending.”—Country Living

"A small act of malice between suburban neighbours snowballs, bringing tension and terror. Terrific and hugely thought-provoking."—Sir Ian Rankin, author of the John Rebus series

“Intelligent, clever, poignant, sharp, and thought-provoking, right through to the perfect final line.”Andrea Mara, author of All Her Fault

“A rollercoaster ride of a toxic tale of neighbors from hell. Brilliantly pacey and wonderfully written with a lovely big twist. Highly recommended.”Neil Lancaster, author of Dead Man’s Grave

“[A] fiery domestic thriller…Abdullah provides a devastating glimpse into how people who believe themselves reasonable can be triggered to commit shocking acts.”Shelf Awareness

“[A] commentary on keeping up appearances, rampant—and subtly disguised—racism, and one woman’s determination to keep her family safe at any cost. The writer proves exceptionally skilled at creating tension in every scene with an ominous feeling just around the next page turn.”—Scary Mommy

“Regardless of what you think you're getting into with a thriller by Kia Abdullah, it will be way more in-depth, nuanced, and more importantly, shift the ground out from underneath the reader at least once...”—Book Riot

“A stunning, thought-provoking, and morally challenging read. It had me guessing until the ingenious reveal—a world-class story.”Graham Bartlett, author of Bad For Good

“Gritty…One cannot remain passive in the face of this novel, and the ending lets no one off the hook.”Kirkus Reviews

“Readers will have a tough time letting go of this one.”Publishers Weekly

“[A] perfectly structured book, with a lean cast and a fast pace…The book climaxes with a nice twist, but the ending is downright chilling.”Chick Lit Central

“An unfortunately timely story.... Perfectly Nice Neighbors is a thriller that feels both uncomfortable and uncomfortably necessary.”Paste Magazine

“Brilliant and emotional...I never saw the twists coming...and the journal of the protagonist was as compelling as anything I've read in the last several years; they book is definitely worth a read if you're interested in issues of race or in the quiet ways we undermine one another when faced with our differences.”Manhattan Book Review

"[Kia Abdullah] explores the human condition and creates unforgettable, multi-layered characters, with unique voices and hard topics."—CrimeReads

“A riveting and timely thriller.... [W]ill leave readers guessing right up to the very last page.”Criminal Element

“Kia Abdullah takes current topics and writes twisty, layered thrillers around them.”Book Riot

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593713815
ISBN-10: 0593713818
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication Date: September 12th, 2023
Pages: 352
Language: English