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WATCHING YOU
by Michael Robotham
Mulholland Books, March 2014
432 pages
$26.00
ISBN: 031625200X


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Marnie Logan is trapped in a nightmare. Not only has her husband Daniel been missing for thirteen months without a trace, leaving her with two children to fend for and a number of accounts in his name to continue paying on because she lacks the authority to close them, but she has the uneasy feeling that she is being watched by someone unknown. Things have suddenly become frighteningly worse when she is accosted by a London mobster demanding that she pay off Daniel's gambling debts. This man, by threatening violence to her and her children, forces her to enter the world of "escorts" - women who are upscale prostitutes -- so that she will generate an income for him.

Marnie turns to clinical psychologist Joe O'Loughlin for help in figuring out how to manage the mess, but is slow to reveal to him just what the total mess entails. She also tries to collect Daniel's life insurance as this is enough for her to pay off the mobster and get herself and the children back on their feet -- but the insurance company insists upon the requisite number of years passing and a court declaration that he is dead.

When a series of murders occurs, all of the victims somehow connected to Marnie and all in a negative way, the police enter the mix with accusations that she is the one committing the murders and has probably murdered poor Daniel as well in order to get the insurance money. Detective Inspector Gennia of the Metropolitan Police is in charge of the investigation and he constantly shows up wherever she is. An ex-policeman, Vincent Ruiz, also becomes involved in the sleuthing as a friend of Joe's and an even-handed sounding board to bounce ideas off.

Gradually, the reader realizes that Marnie is indeed being watched and that the stalker is creepy, probably mentally unbalanced. This threatens to send Marnie over the edge.

Because this is a thriller rather than a mystery the unraveling of the secrets and of their consequences involves all kinds of bizarre situations and motivations that are mostly beyond the reader's ability to suspect, but which crank up the scariness, both in and of themselves as well as cumulatively.

I was struck by Robotham's use of varied fonts to indicate shifts to a different person's point of view, even to the extent of being extra-chapter -- that is, an intrusion in the narrative. Unfortunately, Robotham failed to keep it up and overused the strategy so that it was at times very confusing rather than the skillful literary technique that it should have been.

That, however, is a minor slip in a story that is well-conceived and told. This, the seventh in the Joe O'Loughlin series, will be a very welcome addition for those already fans, and a strong introduction to new readers seeking another good writer of thrillers.

Diana Borse is retired from teaching English at Texas A&M University-Kingsville and savoring the chance to read as much as she always wanted to.

Reviewed by Diana Borse, March 2014

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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