- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: HQ Fiction - GB; First edition edition (5 October 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0008181179
- ISBN-13: 978-0008181178
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 281 g
- Customer Reviews: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 226,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Watcher Paperback – 5 Oct 2017
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‘Addictive and eerie, you’ll finish the book wanting to chat about it’ - Closer Magazine, Must Read
‘A twisted homage to Hitchcock set in a recognisably post-Brexit broken Britain. Tense, fast-moving and with an increasingly unreliable narrator, The Watcher has all the hallmarks of a winner.' – Martyn Waites
‘Ross Armstrong will feed your appetite for suspense’ – Evening Standard
‘Unreliable narrator + Rear Window-esque plot = sure-fire hit’ - The Sun
‘Brilliantly written…this psychological thriller is definitely one that will keep you up to the early hours. Five Stars.’ – Heat, Book of the Week
‘A dark, unsettling page turner’ – Claire Douglas, author of Local Girl Missing.
‘Creepy and compelling’ – Debbie Howells author of The Bones of You
‘The Watcher is an intense, unsettling read… one that had me feeling like I needed to keep checking over my shoulder as I read.; – Lisa Hall, author of Between You and Me
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3 customer reviews
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Although I wasn’t captivated immediately, I was most certainly intrigued – and occasionally confused (as I’m sure we’re meant to be) – as I wondered where Lily was leading us.
I should preface this by mentioning I received an early copy of this book. There were a lot of typos and the odd spelling mistake so it’s likely there were some changes before the final release.
This book is written in the guise of a letter from Lily to her father, so it’s written in second person.
The book’s intriguingly structured. Other than a prologue (which I found a tad irrelevant) the book leaps back in time to over a month before an ‘event’. Of course we don’t know what that is… because each day / section is prefaced as ‘42 days before it comes; 15 days before it comes‘. And so forth.
There was however a change to this 9 days before ‘it comes’ when Lily starts working forward – to fill us in on several days we missed. We later learn why she does this, but it’s initially a bit disconcerting, as is the occasional toing and froing from one day to the previous evening.
Armstrong offers up a lot of hints that all is not well in Lily’s world: her solicitous work colleagues and their off-hand comments; the police’s assertion that she’s a regular at the station; the gaps in her own memories; and her fear of ‘inheriting’ a mental illness.
Readers are ultimately offered a resolution, which was okay, though I’m not a fan of the ubiquitous pre-conclusion scuffle / crisis we so often find in thrillers.
Although I was – at times – unsure what I was reading (having learnt my lesson from the last book I read and realising it could evolve into something supernatural or similar) I really REALLY enjoyed Armstrong’s writing, and found Lily’s ponderings to be surprisingly insightful.
When I first started reading this book, I seriously had no idea what to expect but I have to say the story took me completely by surprise.
The story starts off with a woman named Lily who lives with her husband Aiden in a new-build apartment. The community in which she lives is going through a process of gentrification. Lily, as an avid bird watcher, uses her hobby to spy on her neighbours' lives. One day, she witnesses suspicious going ons and then an elderly neighbour dies. This leads her to figure out what exactly happened and as she comes closer to the truth, she realises that nothing is as it seems.
I found Lily to be a very captivating character. As the story is told solely from her POV, you get a direct perspective of how she views things. Not only this, but we also catch a glimpse of the inner workings of her mind. Her thoughts, eccentricities and the like. I also found her to be pretty quirky and liked her dry sense of humour.
The pacing of the book was pretty fantastic as well. Without divulging too much, I would say the reveals and plot twists were shocking and not too mention rather surprising. The book definitely had me on the edge of my seat especially towards the end. The plot devices and clues left by the author throughout the story kept me guessing what really was going on. This to me makes for a great read because I never faced a dull moment while reading.
My only negative with the story would be that there were some chapters that delved purely into Lily's mind and at times, this distracted me from the bigger story. I also wish there was more interaction with minor characters and I would have liked to see the police a bit more involved in the story. However, these are small negatives which can be easily overlooked. Overall, I would say I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. As someone who loves to read YA fantasy, this was a great break from that. I would recommend it to those who love psychological thrillers and mysteries.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
But if this makes you worry that the story is at all derivative in nature, fear not; "The Watcher" is a highly original and utterly engaging story, written in a way that pulls you in and has you wondering about things from the very first page right up until its exciting and nail-biting conclusion. Along the way, you are pretty much guaranteed to become every bit as obsessed as the protagonist with getting to the bottom of things, walking (and watching) with her every crazy -- and scary -- step of the way.
Some of the book's mysteries (including the identity of the central villain) are not at all hard to guess but there remain many others that are not. In particular, the final outcome remains in doubt right until the very end and even if you have worked out (or guessed) where it is heading, there are still a great many things to enjoy about this book. It is perhaps a bit rash to declare that one has found one's Best New Author of the Year in January but in this case I am sorely tempted to risk it!
DISCLOSURE: This review is of an advance reading copy provided free of charge via the Amazon UK Vine Programme. It is an honest expression of my opinion of the product.
Moving into a half-gentrified neighborhood is emotionally complicated. It is hard to see your neighbors being evicted from run-down buildings that are getting demolished. There is a slate of interesting characters living across the street from Lily. She watches their dramas unfold with her binoculars. Lily feels bad about the gentrification and she just wants to give everybody a hug. She's kind of a goofy that way. So she wanders out in the night and meets Jean. Shortly after, Jean is found dead. Lily puts her observation skills to good use, trying to discover the murderer, and collect evidence.
It's an interesting story. Lily's personality unfolds with her words. She has some mysteries in her past. Admittedly, the book has some slow parts, but overall I think it is worth the read.
Lily as a character, as already mentioned, did my head right in. Hardly surprising as for the majority of the book she is doing her own in so why should I be spared that agony! She is a bit obsessed with watching her neighbours and, when she doesn't actually know them, she makes up names for them and stories about them. Then, one day, she sees something happen in a flat across the way from hers. There is also the matter of the death of a neighbour and the disappearance of another. Oh and the fact that most of the old flats around Lily's new-build property are being demolished. Convoluted and strange and weird, all wrapped up in mystery and intrigue.
I'd echo another reviewer's sentiment. Just read this book. Don't try and work things out from the start. It'll do you in. Just trust and go with the flow. Let the story take you wherever it goes, hang on to each word and the journey's end will be worth it. The path may be a bit ugly but then Lily is not a straightforward character in herself so you wouldn't expect her thoughts or actions to be either. But she does get there and I think, her way is more interesting.
Mr Armstrong does have his own unique voice as an author. I think he is one of those that you'll either get on with or not. It is for that reason, I would recommend downloading and reading the sample first. I can't figure out whether this is a debut book or not. If it is, it's definitely a brave one.
My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.