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by Edwin Hill
Kensington, December 2020
359 pages
ISBN: 1496726766

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Third in Edwin Hill's Hester Thursby series, WATCH HER delivers all the psychological intrigue, complex characterization, and disturbing mystery of the previous entries.

After the horrifying events of her last foray into searching for missing people, Harvard librarian Hester Thursby has stuck to her plan of keeping herself and her family out of danger by avoiding taking on freelance investigator jobs. But when an acquaintance of Hester's friend Angela White asks Hester to look into finding information about some students at a struggling for-profit university, Hester takes the case. Simply tracking down young people on social media and delivering the results of her searches certainly poses no threats—or so she thinks. But it doesn't take Hester long to discover that both the students and the school have secrets, and the school's owners and Angela's boss in the police department may have the darkest secrets of all. Decades before the current story begins, a toddler is found drowned, and that tragedy reaches into the future, touching – and threatening – everyone involved in the present-day story, including Hester herself.

While Hill's intricate plot revolves around murder and mystery, past and present, the centerpiece of his novel is the characters as they struggle with uncomfortable truths and hard choices. Because much of the action involves mothers and daughters, Hester herself has to face her own demons as she and her non-husband struggle to come to terms with their pasts and forge a future together. But Hester isn't the only one struggling, and Hill moves among four characters, devoting alternating chapters to each of them to build a world and world views that give insights into every character in the book. Even more minor characters become memorable as they play their roles in a convoluted plot, where, in the end, all questions are answered, but no answer comes easily, and the entirely believable solution ultimately reveals human character that rings true but is unsettling to live with.

That unsettling solution is hinted at early in the book, but suspecting where the mystery will end in no way deters from the page-turning interest WATCH HER holds. The characters are fascinating, the events suspenseful, and the pace fast, making this a quick read with lingering aftereffects. Ultimately, the more you get to know Hester Thursby and her friends, the more time you'll want to spend with them, no matter how harrowing the journey they take you on.

§ Meredith Frazier, a writer with a background in English literature, lives in Dallas, Texas

Reviewed by Meredith Frazier, January 2021

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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