A Six-Letter Word for Neighbor

A Six Letter Word for Neighbor. Original short story in the MWA anthology WHEN A STRANGER COMES TO TOWN.
Release Date: 2021


Jayne, a reclusive writer is doing her crossword puzzle and minding her own business when a moving van comes rumbling up the street. Great. New Neighbors. The house next store has been pleasantly empty for a couple of years after the family living there moved out, leaving behind their dog Scout. Now Jayne and Scout, who Jayne has adopted, watch as the new man moves in next door. He seems a little strange. Not very friendly. But at least he cleans up the place.

When Jayne learns that her new neighbor restores antiques, she decides to bring him her deceased father’s old watch for repair. But when she goes to retrieve it, he pretends to never have met her. She calls the police; he calls her crazy. True, she’s had her problems. Since “the accident,” there are things she can’t remember. Things she doesn’t want to remember. Still, she knows a thief when she sees one.

When Jayne’s other next door neighbor Ralph becomes convinced that the new guy is up to no good, Jayne and Ralph investigate. An internet search reveals that the antiques restorer has a history of accusations against him, and is connected to a missing persons case. But chasing after him is going to get then into more trouble than they can handle, and Jayne will have to face some ugly truths about both of her neighbors — and herself.

A SIX-LETTER WORD FOR NEIGHBOR is New York Times bestselling author Lisa Unger's contribution to the Mystery Writers of America story collection, WHEN A STRANGER COMES TO TOWN, edited by Michael Koryta.

Reviews

"This collection offers the best of both worlds: expert storycraft from genre stars (Unger, Michael Connelly, and Steve Hamilton, among them) and standout entries from some new faces in crime fiction."
Booklist

"Exceptional… This is the best kind of anthology, consistently excellent and inventive."
Publishers Weekly, starred review